Signs and symptoms of fungi and plant diseases and how to treat them

Fungal diseases in trees and other plant life have devastating effects, not only to nature, but also to humans. Fungi-infected trees are easily recognisable but cannot be treated. Planters should acknowledge the severity of the problem, and keep abreast of the latest research results.

 

Infected crops can cost countries worldwide billions. Apart from the severe money losses, billions of food calories are lost in those crops which could have hungry people. The repercussions are endless, including contributing to famine in developing countries, large reductions of income to farmers and distributers, high prices for consumers and risk of exposure to micro-toxins.

 

The first thing to do, is to understand and acknowledge the different types of fungal diseases that commonly occur in trees.

 

These can be divided into four categories:

 

1.Root and butt rot diseases

As one of the most familiar and recognised fungal diseases, it begins by infecting the roots and then spreading throughout the plant body. The infection causes the roots and butts to deteriorate and rot within.

 

2.Canker diseases

This disease targets injured trees, initially contaminating the bark and working its way into the plant. The infection causes the bark to stain and fade. Pruning is an effective way to avoid canker diseases.

 

3.Shoot or foliar diseases

This is a very common tree disease caused by fungus. Should your tree ever present with small spots or large blotches on the leaves and shoots, it would be a recognizable symptom of the shoot disease.

 

4.Vascular diseases

In the case of this potent disease, the fungus destroys the root which nourishes the plant. This causes the plant to die very quickly after the fungi infects its vascular system

 

Treatment

As tree fungal diseases can’t be cured, it is vital to prevent them from happening in the first place. This can be done by preserving and sustaining healthy trees and plant life. One such method is regular pruning of trees prone to canker diseases. The problems that we currently face is that the methods that we use to prevent these awful diseases are still limited and therefore urgent preventative measures are needed. Extensive research is required to effect anti-fungal treatments.

One thing about fungi is that they can’t move and can only grow by extension by forming a more sophisticated network – the mycelium. Signals act as a lighthouse for fungi to locate it, grow toward, reach and finally evade and colonise the plants.

Even though trees and plants can’t be treated from their fungal diseases, teams of experts have found a method to identify this in a certain fungus called fusarium oxysporum and one of its host plants (the tomato plant). The understanding of such molecular process offer anti-fungal treatments.

 

It is clear that fungal infections and diseases have destructive consequences. Moreover, in a country and period where crop aggregation has significantly increased due to economic development, climate change and population growth, the prevention of fungal diseases and the understanding of the interaction between the a fungus and its host plant, prospectively represent major steps toward developing more efficient strategies to combat plant fungal diseases.