Plant Pathology

Study plant pathology at home. Develop your understanding of all types of plant diseases.

Course Code: BHT206
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Garden School -Distance Learning Course

Plant production is reduced significantly every year, due to pathological problems. To control these problems is to increase productivity, and for the horticultural business that means increased profit margins.

PLANT PATHOLOGY IS NOT simply a study of pests  and diseases. Some pests are in fact not pathological problems, and there are pathological problems which are not pests or diseases.

PLANT PATHOLOGY is about problems in plants caused by physiological damage or irritation at a cellular level. It is concerned with problems which affect parts of the plant cell, leading to malfunctions in the normal processes which occur within the plant.

 

 


Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Overview of plant disease
    • Diagnosis of problems: nutritional, environmental, pathological
    • Symptoms
    • Common terminology
  2. Types of Diseases
    • Morphological changes
    • Necroses
    • Hypoplases
    • Hyperplases
    • Types of pathogens: viruses, bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, nematodes
    • Techniques for diagnosing plant diseases: optical equipment, preparing pathogens for observation, culture methods, inoculation, etc
    • Plant viruses; detection and diagnosis
    • Plant nematodes
    • Case study: Australian plant nematodes
    • Main types of diseases
    • Spots
    • Rots
    • Cankers
    • Galls
    • Mildews
    • Rusts
    • Moulds
    • Wilts
    • Scabs
    • Others
    • Using a key to diagnose diseases in plants
  3. The Lifecycle of a Disease
    • Inoculation
    • Penetration
    • Infection
    • Growth and reproduction
    • Dissemination
    • Methods of penetration by bacteria and nematodes
    • Lifecycle of nematodes
    • Fungal biology
    • Role of insect spreading fungal and bacterial pathogens
  4. Control Techniques
    • Sanitation
    • Resistant Plant Varieties
    • Biological Controls
    • Soil Drenches/dips
    • Chemical Controls
    • Nematicides
    • Soil fumigants
    • Contact poisons
    • Fungicides and the environment
    • Systemic fungicides
    • Misters, dusters, blowers, sprayersSpray maintenance and cleaning
    • Natural controls: cultural, physical, biological, etc
    • Terminology
  5. Selected Pathogen Diseases Ornamentals
    • Fungi affecting turf
    • Phytopthera cinnamomi
    • The process of tree decay: Shigo
    • Case study: how phytopthera cinnamomi kills a susceptible Eucalyptus
    • Peach powdery mildew
    • Rose powdery mildew
    • Honey fungus on rhododendrons and azaleas
    • Petal blight on rhododendrons and azaleas
  6. Selected Pathogen Diseases Crops
    • Sclerotinia rot in vegetables
    • Nematodes and citrus production
    • Citrus diseases: scaly butt, lemon crinkle, citrus canker
    • Brown rot
    • Fire blight
    • Apple fruit rot caused by trichoderma harzianum
    • Prunus necrotic ringspot virus in cut flower roses
    • Potato and tomato blight
    • Club root
  7. Non-Infectious Diseases
    • Nutritional disorders
    • Lack of water
    • Excess water
    • Other environmental problems
    • Disorders caused by man: mechanical damage, pollution
    • Case Study: Air pollution
    • Other disorders: genetic, disturbed growth
    • Non parasitic turf problems
  8. Special Project

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • Describe a range of pathological problems that affect plants.
  • Describe symptoms of a range of diseases that affect plants.
  • Describe disease life cycles and explain how this knowledge can be applied in disease control
  • Explain the methods used to control diseases
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of a particular plant pathogen.
  • Identify and describe a range of non-infectious diseases and problems that affect plants
  • Identify and describe a range of common pathogens that affect ornamental plants.
  • Identify and describe a range of common pathogens that affect crop plants

What You Will Do

  • The first part of the course develops an understanding of the different types of problems which can occur and how to identify them.
  • Terminology is covered in some depth, so as to enable the student to be able to read & understand books & articles written about plant diseases. Other major topics of study include "symptoms" (ie: Necroses, Hypoplases, Hyperplases, etc), "types of pathogens" (ie: Viruses, bacteria, fungi, Nematodes, etc), and the lifecycle of a disease.
  • The second part of the course looks at how to control pathologyproblems. The major methods of controlling pathogens (ie: Sanitation, resistant varieties, biological controls, soil drenches & chemical sprays, etc) are all studied, along with types of equipment & safety.
  • The third part of the course looks at some of the most common plant pathology problems in commercial horticulture, how to identify them and how they are controlled.
  • Some of the problems studied include cinnamon fungus, tree decay, powdery mildew, nematodes, brown rot, blights, turf fungi, damping off and non infectious problems such as temperature burns, air pollution, wind burn and excessive light.
  • The course is a highly practical one involving as much time in practical/field work as it does theory.
  • No prior formal training is required, though anyone undertaking this course is expected to have some experience in horticulture (either having worked in the industry or having studied in some related discipline.

 

TYPES OF DISEASES

MORPHOLOGICAL SYMPTOMS

 

Necroses refers to death of parts of, or whole plants. Normally protoplasts degenerate, followed by the death of cells.

 

  • Plesionecrotic ‑term to describe cells which are almost dead.
  • Holonecrotic ‑term used to describe cells which are completely dead.
  • Plesionecroses ‑yellowing, wilting or hydrosis (ie: very wet tissue), are common plesionecrotic conditions.

Yellowing is seen when chlorophyll breaks down. (This is different to chlorosis ‑ chlorosis is when chlorophyll does not develop in the first place). Though yellowing and chlorosis are often used as interchangeable terms, they are in fact distinctly different.

Wilting involves drooping of plant parts, caused by a loss of turgor (ie: pressure) within the cells. Wilting can be due to either:

  • Water deficiency in the soil.
  • Water uptake being stopped by some other disease problem.

Hydrosis ‑tissue becomes water soaked, cell membranes have been broken and liquid released...this often preceedes fungal rots, spots or blight.

 

Holonecroses

Browning or blackening of part of a diseased plant....sections of tissue die completely....can occur in any part of a diseased plant.

There are three main types of holonecroses....

a/ Necroses of Storage Organs

  • Occurring in fruit, seed, bulbs, corms, rhizomes, tubers and roots
  • Frequently (but not always) hydrosis, followed by a blackening of tissue and eventually rot.

b/ Necroses of Green Plant Tissue

  • Typical examples include damping off, spot diseases (where spots of tissue die), streak diseases where streaks of tissue die, etc.

c/ Necrosis of Woody Parts

  • Canker where part of the bark, stem/trunk or roots die.
  • Die back and gummosis are other examples.

 

Hypoplases

Failure of plant parts to develop fully (eg: Dwarfing, rosetting, etoliation, moasic, etc.).

 

Hyperplases

This refers to abnormal development of plant parts, or overdevelopment of the entire plant.

Includes:

Gigantism.....eg: Curl of leaves or shoots, club root, fasciation.

Hyperchromes....Development of abnormal colour eg: Bronzing, virescence (chlorophyll where it doesn't normally occur).

Metaplasia....Where a plant part changes to another type of plant part, which it should not be (eg: part of a flower developing a leaf like structure).

Prolepsis....Premature development of plant parts. eg: a shoot starting to grow from a bud prematurely, then dying back.
 

How this Course Might Benefit You


Plant diseases affect all sorts of plants from crops through to cultivated ornamental species and native plants. Sometimes we can live with those diseases but at other times they may destroy our livelihoods, or our prized plants. Anyone who works with plants will have witnessed just how devastating diseases can be. This course goes into significant depth into the major recognised groups of diseases. It also examines the life cycles and course of some particular diseases of economic concern. Students of this course will have a great understanding of plant diseases that should set them in good stead for recognition of symptoms and diagnosis. 

This course is ideally suited to people working in, or aspiring to work in:

  • Horticultural science
  • Horticulture research
  • Agronomy
  • Horticultural consultation
  • Teaching
  • Crop growing
  • Fruit & vegetables
  • Botanic gardens
  • Parks & gardens
  • Garden maintenance

Principal of ACS Distance Education, John Mason, is fellow of the CIH.

Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.

ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.

Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association.


How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
registration. Recommencement fees may apply.

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What do I need to know before I enrol?

There are no entry requirements that you need to meet to enrol in our courses, our courses are for everyone.
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You sure can. We are here to help you learn whatever your abilities.

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If you have limited computer skills, we can make special arrangements for you.

This is possible, it depends on the institution. We recommend that if you would like to use our courses that you contact the institution first. Our Course Handbook is a good resource for this.

Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course has been designed to cover the fundamentals of the topic. It will take around 100 hours to complete, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and anything else that is contained in the course. Our short courses are a great way to do some professional development or to learn a new skill.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

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Our custom online learning portal allows you to conduct your learning online. There may be practical tasks that you can do offline. You have the option of downloading your course notes or print them to read later.

There is also the option to pay an additional fee for printed course notes and or USB (availability limited to location and deliverability).

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We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

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We are more learning focussed, rather than assessment focussed. You have online quizzes to test your learning, written assignments and can complete an exam at the end of the course (if you want to receive your certificate). You will not receive a pass/ fail on your course work. If you need to add more details on your assignment, we will ask you to resubmit and direct you where you need to focus. If you need help, you can ask your tutor for advice in the student room.

Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $55 (AUS) $50 (O/S) for each exam.
More information is here

There are practical components built into the course that have been designed to be achieved by anyone, anywhere. If you are unable to complete a task for any reason, you can ask your tutor for an alternative.

When you complete the course work and the exam and you will be able receive your course certificate- a Statement of Attainment. Otherwise, you can receive a Letter of Completion.

You can bundle the short courses to create your own customised learning bundle, Certificates or Advanced Certificates. More information is on this page.

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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.





Tutors

Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

Megan Cox

Megan has completed a Bachelor of Science (Environmental Conservation) with Honours from Writtle University College, as well as a Master of Science Degree in Countryside Management from Manchester Metropolitan University.

Her experience includes working as a Botanist, Ecologist, Head Gardener, Market Gardener and a Farming and Conservation Officer.

She has worked in various roles in Horticulture, Agriculture and Ecology since 2005. Megan has worked for the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Centre for Environment and Rural Affairs among other organisations in the UK, as well as in Australia and Cambodia.

Diana Cole

Diana Cole B.A. (Hons), RHS Diploma in Horticulture, BTEC Higher Diploma in Garden Design, Diploma Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Life Long Learning Sector), P.D.C.

In addition to the qualifications listed above, Diana holds City & Guild construction qualifications and an NPTC pesticide spraying licence (PA1/PA6). Diana runs her own landscape gardening business (Arbella Gardens). She also has skills gained through leading a group of volunteers renovating a local park on behalf of a local council and has been a volunteer leader with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. She continues to teach the Royal Horticultural Society qualifications (Levels 2 and 3) at her local college. She is a member of The National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners Ltd.

Timothy Walker

Timothy is a Botanist, Horticulturist and Gardener. He is an Author, and also a lecturer at Somerville College, Oxford. After training at a number of gardens including Windsor Great Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Timothy commenced work at Oxford Botanic Gardens in 1986. Appointed as "Horti Praefectus" (Superintendent/Director) there in 1988, he held that position until 2014. Under Timothy's watch, the garden won four gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show, and developed 67 acres of MG5 wild flower meadow at the Harcourt Arboretum; a UK threatened habitat. Timothy remains an active practical gardener as well as a highly respected international academic in the fields of horticulture and plant botany.

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