A wide variety of pathogens and pests affect fruit crops. These include infectious pathogenic microorganisms - viruses, bacteria and fungi - and animals pests such as insects, nematodes and rodents that feed on or otherwise damage plants. Pathogens and pests cause losses in yield but they can also reduce quality of fruits and grapes. Fruit trees and grapevine have long productive cycles up to 25 years or more, so factors that weaken plant health over time or result in dieback of orchards are especially harmful.
We study the causes of plant damage and the connections between causal agents and environmental factors. This includes studies on the biology and behavior of harmful organisms, as well as of their counterparts, useful microbes or animals that antagonize pests or pathogens. Characteristic symptoms, disease development and the mechanisms which induce damage are investigated. Circular or mosaic leaf spots and mottling for example are often caused by plant viruses, while wilting symptoms of shoots can indicate blocked vessels due to bacterial infection.
Methods of molecular biology and genomics enable us to utilize the genetic information or full genome of species to supplement classical morphological or phenotypic diagnosis with tools of molecular taxonomy and genomics. Such an integrated approach is a prerequisite to developing fully targeted treatment options and effective damage control strategies. There is still much to be learned on the mechanisms of pathogenicity and their interactions with host plants and environment. Research on these topics provides new insights and potential new treatment methods and new targets for resistance breeding programs.
Zwischen den Pathogen und ihren Wirtspflanzen gibt es zahlreiche Wechselwirkungen, die oft nicht bekannt sind. Mit derartigen Untersuchungen erhalten wir exaktere Daten, die für zielgerichtete Bekämpfungsansätze sowie für die Resistenzzüchtung wichtig sind.