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Unit information: Plant Disease in 2014/15

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Plant Disease
Unit code BIOL20008
Credit points 10
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1B (weeks 7 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Andy Bailey
Open unit status Not open

None, but we strongly recommend students should have studied either BIOL11000 or BIOL12000 and BIOL20005



School/department School of Biological Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

We rely on crop plants to provide the majority of our food, and with an increasing world population there is a need for plant productivity to be maintained or improved. Plant disease and food loss during storage are amongst the most serious threats to agricultural production and so must be controlled in order to protect our food supply. This unit will cover topics such as which pathogens cause particular diseases, how microbes can infect their hosts, how plants can naturally defend themselves against attack, and how plants can be protected from infection using approaches such as plant breeding, GM, pesticides and crop management. The unit will include information about how different aspects of pathogenicity and resistance are controlled at a genetic level and therefore attendance at BIOL 20005 Molecular Methodology for Biologists or an equivalent unit is very strongly recommended.


  • to complement interests in all areas of biology
  • to provide a secure grounding for more advanced courses involving food security and agricultural biotechnology
  • to provide a secure grounding for practical projects involving plant pathology and pathogens

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of the unit students will be familiar with the range of microbes that commonly cause disease in crop plants. They will have gained a basic understanding of the strategies that microbes use to establish and spread plant infections and of how the plant responds to attempted infection by both pathogens and non-pathogens. In addition they will have an understanding of how this knowledge can be applied to reducing the impact of such diseases in agriculturally important crops.

Teaching Information

3 x 1 hour weekly lectures, 3 x 2 hour lab/practicals in wks 8, 10 & 11.

Self-directed learning week (week 12). Students are expected to spend this time on directed reading and also preparation of the poster which is the basis for their continuous assessment mark.

Assessment Information

Attendance at practicals is mandatory.

Pathogen poster (40%).

End of session exams (60%).

Reading and References

  • Agrios G.N. (2005) Plant Pathology 5th Ed (Academic Press)
  • Strange R.N. (2003) Introduction to Plant Pathology (Wiley)
  • Hull R. (2001) Matthews Plant Virology (Academic Press)
  • Lucas J.A., (1998) Plant Pathology and Plant Pathogens (Blackwell Scientific)