You know people and animals get sick, but plants also get sick. Plant diseases threaten some of the world’s favorite food sources. Luckily, plant pathologists (plant doctors) stand between plant diseases and the world’s food supply.
1. 1. Stem Rust of Wheat: Pasta and Bread
Bakeries would be a lot different without wheat. A new strain of stem rust threatens global wheat production.
2. 2. Late Blight: French Fries
The disease responsible for the Irish Potato Famine threatens potatoes to this day.
3. 3. Panama Disease: Bananas
Panama Disease has already wiped out a previous commercial variety of banana, and the newer widely grown banana variety is under attack by Panama Disease.
4. 4. Witches’ Broom and Frosty Pod: Chocolate
These oddly named plant diseases can devastate cocoa yields and reduce our valuable chocolate supply.
5. 5. Citrus Greening: Orange Juice and Mojitos
Already found in Florida, citrus greening could devastate citrus production in the region. Citrus greening, also known as huanglongbing, is also contributing to a lime shortage in Mexico.
6. 6. Downy Mildew: Quinoa
Even ancient grains get plant diseases. When conditions are right, downy mildew can destroy entire crops of quinoa. The disease is so widespread, the quinoa downy mildew pathogen can be detected in imported quinoa seeds.
7. 7. Coffee Rust: Coffee
Grumpy without your daily coffee? Coffee rust hampers coffee bean production globally.
8. 8. Downy and Powdery Mildews: Wine and Beer
9. 9. Aflatoxin: Peanut Butter
Can you imagine a world without peanut butter? Peanuts infected with a specific fungus have high levels of a cancer-causing toxin called aflatoxin.
10. 10. Laurel wilt: Guacamole
Avocado trees are highly susceptible to a disease called laurel wilt. Without avocados and limes (due to citrus greening), chips and guac will be no more.
11. 11. Cadang-Cadang: Coconut milk
Cadang-cadang is a disease that has already killed many coconut trees. Without coconuts and coconut milk, Thai curries just wouldn’t be the same.