International Plant Health Day

Protecting Plants: International Plant Health Day

Plants are crucial for life on Earth. They serve multiple purposes for the planet and its inhabitants. Firstly, they are a food source for all creatures on earth. Plants account for a large portion of human diets, accounting for 80% of the food humans consume. In addition, 60% of this comes from three plant species: wheat, rice, and maize. Furthermore, many countries’ main food sources are rice or wheat.

Because plants are fundamental to human and animal diets, it’s crucial that we help to protect them from harm. In addition, with population growth, it’s even more important to protect and propagate crop growth to meet the increasing demand for food. Diseases caused by bacteria constitute a big threat to plant health.

In this article, we explore how MDPI research is helping to protect plants from bacterial diseases and help propagate crop growth.

Plants ecological value

Plants are extremely important for the planet as they release oxygen during photosynthesis and, in return, take in carbon dioxide. This helps to balance the ecosystem and mitigate the effects caused by climate change by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. In addition, they provide multiple services for their ecosystems, including filtering the air, soil, and water that they inhabit.

Plants are integral components of their ecosystems, creating local climates. One way in which they do this is by influencing surface albedo. Surface albedo refers to the fraction of the sunlight reflected by the surface of the Earth. Plants and trees absorb the sun’s energy and utilize it for important ecosystem functions, such as heating the air. They can also reduce the risk of droughts by maintaining groundwater. Maintaining and propagating plant health is not just important for living organisms but also for the overall health of the planet.

Plants’ nutritional value

Plants can provide a wide variety of nutrients and important food groups in both human and animal diets, including carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. This also includes mineral salts, organic acids, vitamins, and enzymes. Plants can provide multiple types of food. Foods from plants that contain the greatest nutritional value include seeds and fruits.

As the planet’s population continues to grow, so does the demand for food and crops. Because of this, it’s crucial that we come up with new and inventive ways to protect and propagate our crops.

A review recently published in Plants investigates the potential of using alternative strategies to combat soil-borne diseases in tomato plants. Tomatoes are a good source of folate, vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants. Soil-borne diseases such as bacterial wilt (BW), Fusarium wilt (FW), Verticillium wilt (VW), and root-knot nematodes (RKN) threaten the yield and quality of tomatoes.

Agrochemicals are often used to combat these diseases. However, the use of these chemicals can result in chemical residues, pesticide resistance, and environmental pollution. Because of this, the researchers investigated using microbial communities, which can suppress disease and promote plant growth and immunity. In particular, they emphasise the usefulness of pairing microbiome strategies with biotechnology to combat soil-borne diseases.

Combating soil-borne diseases with microbiome strategies

Microbiome strategies involve using root and soil microbiomes to reduce soil-borne diseases and improve plant health, immunity, and productivity. Plant health is closely linked to the microbiome that colonises the roots. The root microbiota is derived from the highly diverse microbiomes that make up the soil environment, dominated by acid bacteria and fungi.

Microbial communities can improve plant health by facilitating nutrient accessibility, promoting growth under stress, and providing a natural defence against both diseases and pests. Because of this, microbiome-mediated strategies have a lot of potential for protecting and promoting plant health. The review explains that there are multiple approaches within microbiome-mediated strategies.

One of the main strategies is the use of microbial inoculants, which focus on inoculating specific beneficial microorganisms directly into the root. This has been shown to boost growth, nutrients, and stress tolerance in tomato plants.

Microbial consortia is also a popular method that has been shown to support plant health by providing disease resistance to root pathogens. The review also goes on to describe how microbiome engineering can be used to enhance plant immunity. This includes novel biotechnological approaches such as omics technology, genome editing, biochemical approaches, synthetic microbial communities (SynCom), defence biome, and culturonomics.

The researchers go on to conclude that microbiome-mediated strategies have a lot of potential for managing soil-borne pathogens in tomato agribiotechnology. However, they note that there are multiple limitations and problems that need addressing before implementation. This includes more research surrounding plant-microbe interactions, as this area is not fully understood, focusing on microbial interactions.

Additionally, future research should focus on investigating plant-microbe interactions using advanced metagenomic, metabolomic, metatranscriptomic, and proteomic approaches and employing high-throughput sequencing technologies.

Climate change and plant health

Plant health is directly affected by the increase in global temperatures. Climate change can affect the health of plants in various ways. For example, it can cause an increase in severe weather events such as droughts and wildfires, resulting in the loss of plant species.

Severe weather events and changes can also lead to the spread of invasive plant species, which can dominate native species. Furthermore, they can encourage outbreaks of invasive pests and plant pathogens, resulting in a challenging environment for plants to grow in. In addition, these events can cause plant stress, impairing their growth. They can also disrupt photosynthesis processes and reduce their ability to respond to stress.

Additionally, climate change can impact the microenvironment of soil by causing soil moisture changes, which can impact plant health and growth.

Climate change impacts oilseed rape plants

Maintaining plant health and propagating plant growth in this ever-changing climate is a challenge. A recent article published in Plants investigates how oilseed rape plants infected with the bacterial pathogen Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris (Xcc) are influenced by climate change.

It’s known that oilseed rape plants are directly impacted by climate change, causing them to undergo premature leaf senescence. By using oilseed rape plants to investigate and understand the mechanisms of Xcc infection under climate change conditions, the researchers could demonstrate how climate change may affect other plant species. The researchers created climate change conditions with average temperature increases of 3°C and 6°C.

They identified that growing the plant under both climate change conditions may have made the plant more vulnerable to Xcc infection. Furthermore, both climate change conditions caused an early onset and worsening of Xcc symptoms in the oilseed rape plants by at least 3 days. In addition, they also identified that the Xcc infection aggravated the leaf senescence already induced by climate change conditions.

Managing plant disease in a changing climate

The researchers concluded that climate change has a significant impact on Xcc infection in oilseed rape plants. This was caused the premature senescence influenced by elevated temperatures. In addition, they also noted that high atmospheric CO2 caused by climate change can make plants more vulnerable to bacterial infection.

They also state that the Xcc bacterial infection enhances and accelerates oxidative stress triggered by climate change in oilseed rape plants. These findings show how important it is to understand the mechanisms underlying plant-pathogen interactions and the impact that climate change can have on plant physiology. The article concludes that effective strategies need to be researched in order to manage plant disease in this ever-changing environment. Also, computer vision and AI classification algorithms for early disease detection in crop diseases could have great potential in this field.


Plant health is crucial for life on Earth. As the climate continues to change, it’s important to come up with new strategies to maintain and propagate plant growth. This is for both the environment and human survival.

The United Nations has developed a set of sustainable development goals to help tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges. SDG2: Zero Hunger, SDG 13: Climate Change, and SDG 15: Life on Land. Which all revolve around maintaining plant health and slowing down climate change effects. It’s extremely important to continue the development of knowledge in this area and keep our plants safe for generations to come.

If you would like to learn more about innovative ways to combat climate change, please see our recent post on Mother Earth Day.