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Potential and limitations of plant virus epidemiology: lessons from the Potato virus Y pathosystem

By Thomas F. Döring

Abstract

Abstract Plant virus epidemiology provides powerful tools to investigate key factors that contribute to virus epidemics in agricultural crops. When successful, epidemiological approaches help to guide decisions regarding plant protection strategies. A recent example is epidemiological research on Potato virus Y (PVY) in Finnish seed potato production; this study led to the dentification of the main PVY vector species and helped to determine the timing of virus transmission. However, pathosystems rarely allow research to produce such clear-cut results. In fact, the notorious complexity of plant virus pathosystems, with multiple interactions between virus, vector, plant and environment, makes them often impenetrable even for advanced epidemiological models. This dynamic complexity questions the universal validity of employing epidemiological models that attempt to single out key factors in plant virus epidemics. Therefore, a complementary approach is needed that acknowledges the partly indeterministic nature of complex and evolving pathosystems. Such an approach is the use of diversity, imploying functionally complementary elements that can jointly buffer against environmental changes. I argue that for a wider range of plant production problems, the strategy of combining mechanistic and diversity-based approaches will provide potent and sustainable solutions. In addition, to translate insights from plant virus epidemiology into practice, improvements need to be made in knowledge transfer, both within the scientific community and between researchers and practitioners. Finally, moving towards more appropriate virus control strategies is only possible if economic interests of all stakeholders are in line with changing current practices

Topics: Crop husbandry, Crop health, quality, protection
Year: 2011
OAI identifier: oai:orgprints.org:19870
Provided by: Organic Eprints

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