Plant pathology is defined as the science of micro-organisms and the environmental factors that cause disease in plants including the mechanisms by which these factors cause diseases (host-pathogen interactions) and the methods of preventing and controlling disease. The causative agents of plant diseases include pathogenic micro-organisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and related organisms (oomycetes), protozoa and nematodes, as well as unfavourable environmental conditions (abiotic factors), such as lack or excess of nutrients, moisture, light, temperature and presence of toxic chemicals. In most cases diseases can be recognised easily by the appearance of symptoms. In addition to systematical grouping based on morphology, spore types and molecular relatedness, plant pathogens can be grouped also according to the types of symptoms they cause. Both aspects are important tools for teaching programmes in plant pathology and help to estimate the importance of a given pathogen in a given crop.
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