Public Release:  Aquatic plants may hold key to advancing plant disease management

American Phytopathological Society

St. Paul, MN (July 6, 2005) - The way aquatic plants respond to plant disease and climate change may have applications for managing land-based agriculture, say plant pathologists with The American Phytopathological Society (APS).

According to David Schmale III, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, many aquatic plants possess unique mechanisms of resistance to microbial attack. "Through further study, plant pathologists may be able to apply the novel mechanisms found in aquatic plants to land-based agricultural systems," said Schmale.

Research done on the management of freshwater plant disease has created environmentally sound methods of plant disease control. While plant pathologists typically try to save plants from plant disease, plant pathologists can use plant pathogens as a means to control highly invasive freshwater plants that harm native aquatic plants. Studies of marine plant diseases continue to provide insight as to how climatic change influences disease development. "Emerging marine diseases, such as coral diseases, are creating a major shift in the marine flora," Schmale said. "Global warming and climate change appear to be increasing the rate at which these diseases spread and intensify," he said.

The biology, ecology, and control of aquatic plant diseases in freshwater and marine environments will be addressed during the Aquatic Plant Pathology symposium at the APS Annual Meeting in Austin, TX, July 30 - August 3, 2005. The symposium will be held Sunday, July 31 from 1-5 p.m. at the Austin Convention Center.

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Members of the media are extended complimentary registration to the annual meeting. To register, contact Amy Steigman at asteigman@scisoc.org or 1-651-994-3802. A news conference on emerging plant diseases will be held at the annual meeting on Monday, August 1. Media are invited to attend or call in by dialing 888-872-2038 and entering guest code 1202#.

The American Phytopathological Society (APS) is a non-profit, professional scientific organization. The research of the organization's 5,000 worldwide members advances the understanding of the science of plant pathology and its application to plant health.

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