Potential strategies and future requirements for plant disease management under a changing climate


E-mail: atiedem@gwdg.de


Climate change will probably influence the occurrence, prevalence and severity of plant diseases. This will also affect disease management with regard to timing, preference and efficacy of chemical, physical and biological measures of control and their utilization within integrated pest management (IPM) strategies. Prediction of future requirements in disease management is of great interest for agroindustries, extension services and practical farmers. A comprehensive analysis of potential climate-change effects on disease control is difficult because current knowledge is limited and fragmented. This review reveals that certain existing preventive plant protection measures, such as use of a diversity of crop species in cropping systems, adjustment of sowing or planting dates, use of crop cultivars with superior resistance and/or tolerance to diseases and abiotic stress, use of reliable tools to forecast disease epidemics, application of IPM strategies, and effective quarantine systems, may become particularly important in the future. Effective crop protection technologies are available and will provide appropriate tools to adapt to altered climatic conditions, although the complexity of future risks for plant disease management may be considerable, particularly if new crops are introduced in an area. Overall, the challenge of adapting disease control measures to climate change is not likely to be fundamentally different from the adjustments to technological innovations or changes in the economic framework already required in current crop protection. Potential beneficial effects of climate change, such as longer growing seasons, fewer frosts and shifted precipitation patterns, must not be neglected, as they could counteract the presumed enhancement of particular diseases.