The production of sufficient good-quality crops is essential to human existence. Plant diseases have ruined crops, bringing widespread famine. Many plant pathogens are fungi that cause tissue decay and eventual death of the host. In addition to destroying plant tissue directly, some plant pathogens spoil crops by producing potent toxins. Fungi are also responsible for food spoilage and the rotting of stored crops. For example, the fungus Penicillium, It is a major source of post-harvest decay in fruits and is responsible for the widespread post-harvest disease in Citrus fruit known as green rot or green mold.
In infected fruit, very profuse sporulation can be seen – fruit is completely covered by white mycelium followed by green and bluish spores of Penicillium digitatum and Penicillium italicum respectively. The typical terpenous odor spreads in the surrounding area where these fungi infect the fruit. It is quite possible that these fungi produce ethylene in sufficient quantities, resulting in the rapid senescence of adjacent fruits. Citrus volatiles and even the synthetic mixtures of ethanol, limonene, acetaldehyde, and CO2 at certain concentrations stimulate the growth of P. digitatum. Blue mold is more harmful because it spreads in the box and healthy fruits are directly attacked, regardless of injury. Blue mold is a nesting-type pathogen, meaning that it produces enzymes that soften the adjacent fruit and thus allow fungus to enter. Green mold does not spread by nesting; thus, if a single fruit is affected it remains as such without contaminating adjacent fruit. However, spores lead to soiling of fruits and thus require repacking with a box change.
Fungi also cause damage to other types of crops such as tomatoes or potatoes. Mushrooms also damage the plant itself and can destroy a farm in a short time.For example, Alternaria solani is a fungal pathogen that produces a disease in tomato and potato plants called early blight. The pathogen produces distinctive “bullseye” patterned leaf spots and can also cause stem lesions and fruit rot on tomato and tuber blight on potato. Despite the name “early,” foliar symptoms usually occur on older leaves. If uncontrolled, early blight can cause significant yield reductions Primary methods of controlling this disease, include preventing long periods of wetness on leaf surfaces and applying fungicides. Solani is also present in most potato production regions every year.
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