NPLB21000U Plant Pathology: Crop Diseases and Food Security

Volume 2021/2022

BSc Programme in Natural Resources


Plant diseases threaten food security and food safety. Thus, they reduce crop production by an average of 20% at farm level and about 25% of all foods are suspected to be contaminated by mycotoxins despite massive input in the agricultural sector. Therefore, there is a need to improve sustainable management of diseases to ensure food security to provide stable and healthy supplies.

The course aims to provide practical and theoretical knowledge to understand plant diseases and how they can be managed, with emphasis on the biology of the pathogens and their interactions with plants. Likewise, the influence on food safety will be introduced.

What causes disease? The biology of fungi and fungal-like organisms, bacteria and viruses causing plant disease.

Introduction to:

  • The concepts symptomology, pathogenicity, taxonomy and diagnosis
  • Basic ecological and epidemiological principles in relation to the establishment and spread of plant diseases
  • The mechanisms used by pathogens to infect plants and by plants to combat pathogens
  • Molecular, cellular and genetic aspects of pathogenicity and disease resistance
  • Plant disease control measures currently used (primarily cultural management, disease resistance and chemical control)  
  • Upcoming sustainable control measures, including biological control and induced resistance
  • Post harvest diseases and food safety
  • Forecasting and plant disease legislation.
  • Case studies of plant diseases in agriculture, horticulture and forestry
Learning Outcome

The course gives a basal understanding of how microorganisms interact with plants and each other and how the environment influences diseases. Secondly, it introduces the methods used to study these interactions as well as management options and their effect on food security.

On completing the course, the student should be able to:


  • Describe the different types of organisms causing plant diseases.
  • Describe how environment influences diseases and our ability to manage disease.
  • Describe the mechanisms underlying the interactions of pathogenic microorganisms with plants and other microorganisms and the basic biology and relationships of these organisms.
  • Show how the mechanisms influence the ecology of microorganisms and the development of plant diseases.


  • Be able to explain the biological and environmental components that determine host-pathogen interactions, including control options, cellular structures and genetic elements.
  • Be able to evaluate how the knowledge gained can be applied to manage pathogens and minimise the consequences of plant diseases.
  • Be able to reflect on ethical aspects of using biotechnology, pesticides and other options for controlling diseases.



  • Discuss and disseminate knowledge of plant diseases and their control to both specialists and non-specialists

Specific information will be provided on Absalon

  • Tronsmo AM, Collinge DB, Djurle A, Munk L, Yuen J, Tronsmo A (2020) Plant Pathology and Plant Diseases 440 pp CABI International, Wallingford. https:/​/​​bookshop/​book/​9781789243178/​ ISBN 9781789243178
  • Hockenhull, J., Danielsen, S., de Neergaard, E., Thomsen I. Illustrated Atlas of Fungal Plant Pathogens (Illustrated by N. Leroul).


A course set of the latter book is available for use in the practical exercises. The curriculum is supplemented with primary literature, course notes and a laboratory manual as a reference.

The basic concepts of plant diseases and their study are illustrated through practical and theoretical methods and excursions to see diseases and their control in practice. The students will work with the concepts and discuss in groups to understand the problems associated with managing plant diseases.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 30
  • Class Instruction
  • 30
  • Preparation
  • 100
  • Practical exercises
  • 42
  • Excursions
  • 0
  • Exam
  • 4
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination, 4 hours under invigilation
Exam registration requirements

75% of the 6 laboratory exercises and theoretical reports has to be approved

All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
One internal examiner

As the ordinary exam. If 10 or fewer register for the reexamination the examination form will be oral (30 min) with preparation time (30 min) with all aids.

If the requirements are not met the laboratory exercises and theoretical reports has to be handed in 2 weeks before re-exam and 75% need to be approved

Criteria for exam assesment

See learning outcomes