We’re constantly reminded that plants are living organisms, so does this mean they suffer from disease? We take a look. 

Surely all living things that grow and reproduce are able to fall ill, but how do you know when a plant is sick? And do diseases range from mild to deadly, just like they do in 

humans and animals? 

What causes plant disease? 

Diseases can either be infectious (able to transfer from one plant to another) or non-infectious, and are often caused by a lack of necessary nutrients. Infectious plant diseases, much like human and animal diseases, are caused by viruses, bacteria and fungi. Factors that may prevent individual plants from getting the necessary nutrition include polluted areas (air and soil), extreme weather conditions and a lack of, or too much, water or sunshine. 

Signs and symptoms of disease 

Though not all signs are visible, if a plant experiences slow or no growth, and yellowing or damaged parts seen on its leaves, it may be infected. 

How does disease affect plants? 

When plants are sick, they may not be able to perform some of their usual function, such as photosynthesis, absorbing water and nutrients, and the ability to grow fruits. Of course, when plant diseases spread within a crop and it is left undetected and then consumed as food by humans, it may have a negative impact on our health. 


Plant pathology 

This is the study of plant health – including environmental factors that cause diseases, the ways in which the illness occurs, which organisms are involved, and how the disease affects the growth and quality of crops. Plant pathology extends into the solution to disease – ways in which the spread can be managed and how to control it going forward. 

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