Threats to global food security from emerging fungal and oomycete crop pathogens

Emerging fungal and oomycete pathogens infect staple calorie crops and economically important commodity crops, thereby posing a significant risk to global food security. The current agricultural systems — with emphasis on intensive monoculture practices — and globalized markets drive the emergence and spread of new pathogens and problematic traits, such as fungicide resistance. Climate change further promotes the emergence of pathogens on new crops and in new places. 

In this article, Helen N. Fones and colleagues review the factors affecting the introduction and spread of pathogens and current disease control strategies, illustrating these with the historic example of the Irish potato famine and contemporary examples of soybean rust, wheat blast and blotch, banana wilt and cassava root rot. This review looks to the future, summarizing what the authors see as the main challenges and knowledge gaps, and highlighting the direction that research must take to face the challenge of emerging crop pathogens.

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