Plant pathology is the study of plant diseases, their causes, effects, and management. Keeping plants healthy requires an understanding of the organisms and agents that cause disease as well as an understanding of how plants grow and are affected by disease. The expanding interest in the quality of our global environment and increasing global demand for high quality food, fiber, tree and ornamental plants provides many opportunities for graduates with training in plant pathology.
Teaching and research faculty specialize in wheat, corn, sorghum, soybean, sunflower, rice, turf and horticultural diseases caused by bacteria, fungi, nematodes, and viruses. In addition, departmental teaching and research efforts integrate the crops and pathogen groups important to Kansas, the U.S., and the world through the study of bioinformatics, cytogenetics/germplasm improvement, disease diagnostics, disease physiology, epidemiology, microbial ecology, fungal genetics, host-parasite interactions, modeling/statistics, molecular genetics/genomics, plant biotechnology, sustainable agriculture, and environmental science.
A plant pathologist is a professional who specializes in plant health much as a physician specializes in human health or a veterinarian in animal health. Opportunities for graduates with plant pathology minors include basic and applied research, international development, teaching, crop consulting, and extension. In addition, plant pathology expertise is useful for farm and greenhouse managers, park and golf course superintendents, agribusiness sales representatives, and other biological science positions requiring a bachelor’s degree.
Training available in plant pathology at KSU includes the following areas:
- Diseases of Kansas crops (wheat, corn, sorghum, soybean, sunflower, turf, and horticultural plants)
- Ecology and evolution
- Host-plant resistance
- Molecular biology of host-pathogen interactions
- Pathogen biology