Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Emerging Plant Diseases in the Context of Ecosystem Services

Date Published: 
April 23, 2013

This seminar is part of the "Emerging Plant Diseases" series.

Plant disease is a limiting factor in agricultural production worldwide. Most crops do not reach their actual yield potential due to the impacts of plant disease on crop yield. A second green revolution will be needed to increase food production in pace with burgeoning world populations. Plant pathogens cause losses estimated to be as high as $30 billion per year. The risk of spread of pathogens globally with trade requires continued monitoring and improved diagnostic capabilities. One of the largest challenges we face in agriculture today is to develop, deploy and scale the appropriate technologies that will help reduce plant diseases and increase crop yield. In this Agrilinks session, Dr. Jean Ristaino, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Plant Pathology at North Carolina State University and Jefferson Science Fellow and Senior Science Advisor at USAID’s Bureau for Food Security, discusses the “armed and dangerous” plant diseases that threaten food security globally including Phytophthora infestans (causal agent of the Irish potato famine), Cassava Mosaic Diseases, and wheat stem rust, and describes how an ecosystem services concept can be useful for evaluating tradeoffs involved in deploying technologies to increase crop yields under changing climate.

Bio: Jean Ristaino is a William Neal Reynolds Professor of Plant Pathology at NC State University and is serving as a senior science advisor in the Bureau of Food Security, Office of Agriculture Research and Policy (BFS/ARP) at USAID. She helped launch the Borlaug Higher Education Agriculture Research Development Program in Feed the Future countries. She works with the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD) on human and institutional capacity development and implementation of BIFADS’s review of the Cooperative Research Support Program (CRSP). She has led USAID efforts to develop a strategy for coffee rust research in Central America. She is on the interagency panel on plant genomics and helped to write the strategic plan. She has developed a research coordination network of US scientists who will serve as mentors to train African women to combat emerging plant diseases that impact their food security.