Impacts of climate change on plant diseases—opinions and trends

Abstract

There has been a remarkable scientific output on the topic of how climate change is likely to affect plant diseases. This overview addresses the need for review of this burgeoning literature by summarizing opinions of previous reviews and trends in recent studies on the impacts of climate change on plant health. Sudden Oak Death is used as an introductory case study: Californian forests could become even more susceptible to this emerging plant disease, if spring precipitations will be accompanied by warmer temperatures, although climate shifts may also affect the current synchronicity between host cambium activity and pathogen colonization rate. A summary of observed and predicted climate changes, as well as of direct effects of climate change on pathosystems, is provided. Prediction and management of climate change effects on plant health are complicated by indirect effects and the interactions with global change drivers. Uncertainty in models of plant disease development under climate change calls for a diversity of management strategies, from more participatory approaches to interdisciplinary science. Involvement of stakeholders and scientists from outside plant pathology shows the importance of trade-offs, for example in the land-sharing vs. sparing debate. Further research is needed on climate change and plant health in mountain, boreal, Mediterranean and tropical regions, with multiple climate change factors and scenarios (including our responses to it, e.g. the assisted migration of plants), in relation to endophytes, viruses and mycorrhiza, using long-term and large-scale datasets and considering various plant disease control methods.

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Acknowledgements

Many thanks to K. Dehnen-Schmutz, T. Harwood, O. Holdenrieder, A. MacLeod, P. Mills, M. Moslonka-Lefebvre, M. Shaw, J. Webber, M. Wolfe and X. Xu for insights and discussions, and to T. Matoni and anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on a previous draft. This review was partly funded by the Rural Economy and Land Use Programme (RELU), UK, and by the French Foundation for Research on Biodiversity (FRB) and is partly based on a presentation at the Climate Change and Plant Disease Management Conference, University of Evora, Portugal, 10–12 November 2010.

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Pautasso, M., Döring, T.F., Garbelotto, M. et al. Impacts of climate change on plant diseases—opinions and trends. Eur J Plant Pathol 133, 295–313 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10658-012-9936-1

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Keywords

  • Adaptive ecosystem management
  • Biotic interactions
  • Landscape pathology
  • Phytophthora ramorum
  • Plant disease epidemiology
  • Tree fungal pathogens