Fighting plant disease at warm temperatures keeps food on the table [VIDEO]

  • Nov 27, 2017
  • He lab, fundamental research
  • Fundamental Research
  • Igor Houwat, Bethany Huot
The study, published in Nature Communications, shows how high temperature weakens plant defenses while, separately, strengthening bacterial attacks.
By MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory.


Plant disease is one of the most important causes of crop loss worldwide, and pathogenic bacteria and unfavorable climate are two major culprits.

Sometimes, climate and bacteria come together, with devastating consequences. 

One of the best historical examples of this is the Irish Potato Famine. Beginning in 1845, Ireland experienced the “perfect storm” of unusually cool, damp weather that provided prime growing conditions for an exotic pathogen that destroyed the potato crop. With their primary food source ravaged by disease, a million Irish people died from the ensuing famine.

On the other end of the thermometer, warmer temperatures also can cause extensive crop loss.

Bethany Huot, a post-doc in the He lab, now shows how hot weather weakens plant defenses and, separately, strengthens bacterial virulence. The study is published in Nature Communications.

For more, check out the video above or read the original story on MSU Today.

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