Climate change likely to complicate plant diseases of the future

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Washington, June 25 (ANI): Climate change is expected to create yet another problem - complications in plant diseases of the future.

University of Illinois researchers are studying the impact of elevated carbon dioxide, elevated ozone and higher atmospheric temperatures on plant diseases that could challenge crops in these changing conditions.

"Plants growing in a high carbon dioxide environment tend to grow faster and larger, and they have denser canopies," said Darin Eastburn, U of I associate professor of crop sciences.

"These dense plant canopies favour the development of some diseases because the low light levels and reduced air circulation allow higher relative humidity levels to develop, and this promotes the growth and sporulation of many plant pathogens."

At the same time, plants grown in high carbon dioxide environments also close their stomata, pores in the leaves that allow the plant to take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen, more often. Because plant pathogens often enter the plant through the stomata, the more frequent closing of the stomata may help prevent some pathogens from getting into the plant.

"Elevated levels of carbon dioxide and ozone can make a plant more susceptible to some diseases, but less susceptible to others. This is exactly what we've observed in our climate change experiments," Eastburn said.

"Now is the time for plant pathologists, plant breeders, agronomists and horticulturalists to adapt disease management strategies to the changing environment," he added.

The study was published in Global Change Biology. (ANI)

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