Credits: 3

Terms Offered: Spring

Instructor: Boris A. Vinatzer, David G. Schmale III, Jonathan D. Eisenback, Xiaofeng Wang

Prerequisites: Graduate standing, exposure to either microbiology, introductory plant pathology, or relevant areas of biology.


Biology of plant pathogenic fungi, prokaryotes, viruses and nematodes: morphology, taxonomy, ecology, plant-pathogen interactions, symptomology, and selected aspects of management.

Lecture Topics

  • Fungi
    1. Overview: fungi and fungus-like organisms, types of diseases
    2. Classification, basis of taxonomy
    3. Survey of the major groups that include plant pathogens Morphology, anamorph and teleomorph. (Deuteromycota, Ascomycota, Basidiomycota, Oomycota, brief mention of slime molds, Chytridiomycota, Zygomycota), including aspects of the following:
      • Disease cycles
      • Ecology: dispersal and survival, inoculum and inoculum potential
      • Host-parasite interactions
  • Bacteria
    1. General biology of plant pathogenic bacteria and description of different genera
    2. Erwinia species and the diseases they cause
    3. Pseudomonas syringae and Xanthomonas ssp and the diseases they cause
    4. Fastidious bacteria and phytoplasmas and the diseases they cause
    5. Agrobacterium ssp and the diseases they cause
    6. Gram positive plant pathogenic bacteria and the diseases they cause
    7. Molecular evolution and taxonomy of plant pathogenic bacteria
    8. Plant pathogenic bacteria as biocontrol agents
  • Viruses
    1. Overview, types of diseases caused by viruses; importance locally and globally
    2. Virus-host interactions: replication, movement, pathogenesis
    3. Virus nomenclature and classification systems: DNA and RNA genome structure and phylogeny; capsid morphology
    4. Survey of major plant virus families and genera: molecular diversity, biology, ecology, including vector transmission
  • Nematodes
    1. Introduction to the Phylum Nematoda
    2. Nematode morphology
    3. Digestive and reproductive systems
    4. Nematode taxonomy
    5. Nematodes as parasites and pathogens
    6. Disease complexes
    7. Mechanisms of resistance
    8. Nematode distribution and sampling
    9. Numbers of nematodes and disease


  • Each of the four sections of the course will be concluded by an exam.