Welcome to the 2006 International Society for Plant Pathology Teaching Symposium Archive

On-line from May 15th to June 4th, 2006


About the Symposium

This ISPP symposium was an opportunity for plant pathology teachers, no matter where they were in the world, to share their ideas, tips and techniques.

Each week as indicated, the papers listed were made available for viewing and discussion. Also a weekly forum was opened on the topics indicated. At the end of each week, discussion closed and a new set of papers and a new forum went live.

The symposium is now closed but will remain at this address as an archive for the foreseeable future. You are welcome to read the papers and the (now read-only) discussion. Please be aware that URLS listed in the papers or discussion were current at the time of the symposium, but these may, over time, become broken. However, an email to the author or contributor should point you to any updates.

Official Time Zone

Dates and times during the Symposium were in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The time and date stamped next to a contribution in the paper discussions or forums is in GMT.

Teaching Plant Pathology in a Changing World

Liyun Guo and Jianqiang Li
Department of Plant Pathology
China Agricultural University, Beijing
P. R. China

In the past few years, the teaching systems in the universities of China have gone through many changes.  One of the major changes is aimed at providing education to students with varying backgrounds.  To fulfill this objective, the course system has changed by providing more diverse courses and courses with more general content.  Here, we will share our experiences on designing a plant pathology course for students majoring in Horticulture in China, to reflect the trend of this change and our efforts to meet the challenge, as we were one of the first to establish this course in China.

Meeting the challenge of a changing world

Before 2000, the undergraduate students in horticulture at the China Agricultural University specialized in one of three major areas: fruit trees, vegetables, or ornamental plants.  For each area, there were 30 enrollments each year. The plant pathology courses provided for student majoring in fruit tree, vegetable and ornamental plants were Diseases of Fruit Trees, Diseases of Vegetables, and Disease of Ornamental Plants, respectively.  Each course was 60 hours long and set up as a basic requirement for students in each area.  Students were not allowed to substitute another course for their required course.  Starting in 2000, these three majors were combined into a single major, horticulture, with around 120 students entering the program each year.  Consequently, Disease Management of Horticultural Plants, a 48 h plant pathology course emphasizing the diseases of a variety of horticultural plants, was established as a contribution to the new Core Curriculum Program.  This course consists of sixteen 2-hour lectures, six 2-hour lab sections and a half day field trip (Table 1).

Because this course is taught to student majoring in horticulture, it should cover diseases of fruit trees, vegetables, and ornamental plants.  It was a real challenge for us to combine the content of three courses into one shorter course.  One of our strategies is to spend less time on the introduction of individual diseases of each type of plant.  Instead, we give a general introduction of representative diseases and place more emphasis on the integrated management of several diseases on a host or host group.  For example, powdery mildew, downy mildew, gray mold, and Phytophthora root rot, affect many plants including fruit trees, vegetables, and ornamental plants.  So, we now present a general introduction of these diseases, the characteristics of the pathogens, the environmental factors that affect the development and epidemic of these diseases, and the general control methods.  We then use an example to discuss integrated diseases management on a plant or plant group.  For example, one of our topics is “integrated disease management in peach orchards”.  In the lecture, we not only discuss the major diseases on peach trees in China, and the effective control methods, but we also discuss the effects of multiple factors on the health of the plant, such as the peach varieties available, the site of the orchard, the types of plants in the surrounding area, the lay out of the rows, the irrigation methods used, the stands of the trees, and the management practices used.

Although the economy of China is growing very fast, there are big variations between different areas, especially in terms of agriculture production.  Because we are one of the predominant universities in China, our students originate from many diverse parts of the country.  In addition, the growth of the economy and change in trading practices has influenced the public in China and their attitudes toward agriculture products.  So, in addition to adjusting to basic changes in the organization of the curriculum, we also need to make the course relevant to the current situation of agricultural production in China.  To accomplish this, we carefully selected the examples we use in case studies to reflect these different situations.  In one case we discussed how a change in consumer behavior influences vegetable production and its relation to disease control practices.  In addition, we think active study is a key element to help students manage the information they learn in the course and to apply the knowledge they have gained in the future.  So we have developed different assignments designed to better motivate the students.  Examples include, having the students prepare a poster to present what they have learned in the class to the public, or giving a PowerPoint presentation on a specific disease they are interested in to the class.  Each year, we were surprised by the enthusiasm of the students for these projects.    

Table 1.  Syllabus for Plant Pathology

Lecture Week and date Main content
1 1 (9/6) Course introduction
1) The importance of plant diseases
2) The concept of plant disease, disease triangle
3) Bases for grouping plant diseases
2 1 (9/9) The symptoms and signs of disease
The causes of diseases
 Non-infectious diseases
3 2 (9/13) The causes of diseases
Plant pathogenic fungi
4 2 (9/16) The causes of diseases
Plant pathogenic fungi
5 3 (9/20) The causes of diseases
Plant pathogenic prokaryotic micro-organisms
6 3 (9/23) The causes of diseases
Plant viruses
7 4 (9/27) The causes of diseases
Plant pathogenic nematodes\parasitic higher plants
8 4 (9/30) Disease development:
1) The concept of pathogenicity of pathogen and the resistance of plant hosts
2) Disease progress
  5 (10/4) National Holiday
  5 (10/7) National Holiday
9 6 (10/11) Disease development:
 Disease epidemics and forecasting
10 6 (10/14) Disease diagnosis: Koch’s postulates
11 7 (10/18) Disease diagnosis: How to do it
12 7 (10/21) Disease control methods and IPM
13 8 (10/25) Case: Some important vegetable diseases
14 8 (10/28) Case: Integrated disease management of vegetable diseases
15 9 (11/1) Case: Integrated disease management for ornamental plants
16 9 (11/4) Case: Diseases of fruit trees
In the future

The establishment of this course has included several steps, starting from the writing of a new text book and the updating of lab sections.  Once, the material was taught as part of the Plant Protection course, but then it was separated out after one year.  The current syllabus reflects the methods of teaching in the past three years.  We have received positive feedback from both students and a course review panel.  Currently, we are working on a courseware package that will allow the student to review course materials after class.  Under a new regulation from the Chinese Minister of Education, the Curriculum Program is subject to amendment every four years.

Date: 29th May, 2006

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