Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI)
Federal Research Institute
for Cultivated Plants
apl. Prof. Dr. Johannes Hallmann
38104 Braunschweig, Germany
Martina Ernst | Andrea Haberle-Kappei
Tel: +49(0)3946 47-6101
Fax: +49(0)3946 47-6106
Numerous viruses, bacteria, fungi and nematodes threaten our cultivated plants. These phytopathogens are genetically highly flexible. How do new variants arise and spread? Which factors promote these processes? How can we detect new aggressive variants? Such research issues are addressed by the Institute for Epidemiology and Pathogen Diagnostics.
Phytopathogenic viruses, bacteria, fungi and nematodes are naturally evolving. Depending on selective pressure exerted by the host plant or the environment, emerging variants establish locally and may spread epidemically over large distances. Infected cultivated plants decline in yield and product quality. Emerging variants of pathogens often evade the defence system of cultivated plant varieties. Other variants may resist a pesticide. Or they improve adaption to a vector or an alternate host to spread more efficiently.
We investigate the biological and genetic flexibility and within-species diversity of phytopathogens to understand how and by which mechanisms they evolve in the frame of modern agriculture.
Our results on the variability and diversity of phytopathogens are the basis for the development of powerful and highly specific diagnostic tools. This is a major prerequisite for target-oriented plant protection. Our findings also contribute to the breeding of plants for sustainable resistance to pathogens. The research is indispensable for the development of crop protection strategies for integrative as well as organic farming. The early detection of emerging varieties of phytopathogens enables a foresighted political consulting.