Phytopathology

Sick vine leaf

Phytopathology is the science of plant diseases caused by viruses, bacteria, oomycetes (water moulds), phytoplasma and fungi

Plant diseases are of major significance in the growing of all crop plants, causing high losses in quality and yield. In addition, toxins can lead to a threat to the safety of food and feed. Every year, several billion Euros in losses are incurred worldwide due to disease control costs and decreased yields .

Using modern techniques such as molecular methods and informatics, Agroscope develops new methods for diagnosing, forecasting, monitoring and regulating pathogens. The effect of cropping and environmental factors on plant pathogens is investigated, plant varieties are tested in terms of their susceptibility to disease, and new cultivation and plant protection strategies are developed. The aim is to enable the production of safe, high quality food and feed. In this context, both protection of the environment and sustainable production play a crucial role.

Research Projects

Biological Control of Pests and Pathogens in Arable Crops and Grasslands

This research activity concentrates on the development of efficient and environmentally sound measures for the control of pests and pathogens in cereals, potatoes, oilseed rape and in pastures.

Prevention of Mycotoxins in Arable Crops

Toxigenic fungi of the genera Fusarium and Aspergillus can infect cereal and maize plants, leading not only to significant yield losses, but also to harvested produce that are contaminated with mycotoxins, and are hence unsuitable for use as food or feed.

Sustainable Plant Protection South of the Alps

The areas in the South of the Alps have different pedologic, climatic and ecologic caracteristics than those of other Swiss areas. In consequence, several phytosanitary problems are specific for that area or are amplified in their frequency of their severity.

Development of Strategies Against Fungi and Bacteria in Fruits and Vegetables

For the sustainable protection of plants against bacteria and fungi, we study the epidemiology of the pathogens, use microorganisms as natural antagonists for plant protection.

Fungus-Plant Interactions, Risk Forecasts and Control

Fungal diseases linked to climate change and agronomic practices are recurrent problems for which new solutions must be found.

Diagnosis of Viruses, Bacteria and Phytoplasma

The virology-photoplasmology laboratory performs molecular and serological diagnoses as well as the epidemiological monitoring of viral and phytoplasma diseases of plants cultivated in Switzerland (all crops), and of bacterial diseases in field crops and special crops (except for arboriculture and horticulture).