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This topic takes on average 120 minutes to read.

Topic last updated: 09 Nov 2023
    • Biology Biology
    • Ico Science Science
    • 14-16
    • 120

Health, disease and the development of medicines

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Treating and preventing communicable disease in plants

Plants can also be infected with communicable diseases, and we need to manage this to maintain food security. To do so, farmers can use pesticides which kill the disease-causing microorganisms. These include fungicides, which prevent fungal growth, nematicides, which prevent the growth of parasites, and bactericides and virucides, which prevent the growth of bacteria and viruses, respectively.

Alternatively, farmers can use biological control. This involves introducing other living things which will not cause harm to the plant but will protect against harmful microorganisms. For example, some harmless bacteria and fungi can be introduced to compete with the harmful ones, to help manage the plant disease.

Genetically modified (GM) crops are also common. These crops have genes from other organisms which gives them advantageous traits to help protect them from infections. One example is squash that has been GM to become resistant to zucchini yellow and watermelon mosaic viruses. GM crops are more commonly used for protecting the plants against insect infestations rather than for protecting against communicable diseases.