Looking ahead in rice disease research and management uri icon

abstract

  • Rice production is subject to increasing environmental and social constraints. Agricultural labor and water, which are key resources for rice production, illustrate this point. Nearly all rice-producing countries face reduced availability of agricultural water and shortage of farm labor. Plant pathologists should be concerned with such large-scale evolutions because these global drivers have an impact on not only the rice production system but also on the individual field and single-rice-plant levels. These concerns are closely associated with the long-term sustainability and environmental consequences of the intensification of agricultural systems brought about by problems of feeding a rapidly growing human population. Furthermore, genetic diversity in rice production has been reduced, thus inducing frequent disease epidemics and pest outbreaks. Looking ahead, we need to realize the need to maintain the diversity and yet retain the high productivity of the system. Natural resources, including genetic resources, are not infinitely abundant. We have to be efficient in utilizing genetic resources to develop durable resistance to rice diseases. Developing resistance is an important first step in tackling the disease problem, but it is not the only step available to achieve durability. Deployment of resistance must be considered in conjunction with development of host plant resistance. To attain durability, we need a better understanding of the coevolution process between the pathogen and the host resistance gene. Our target is an integrated gene management approach for better disease control and more effective utilization of genetic resources. Plant pathology, as an applied science, derives its strengths from various disciplines. To do the job right, we need a better understanding of the pathosystems, the epidemiology, and the coevolution process between the pathogen and the host resistance gene. The challenge, as pointed out by pioneers in our profession, is to prove the usefulness and the relevance of our research. Thus, we need to strike a balance between mission-oriented and fundamental research and make sure that our profession is (still) useful in the information technology and genomic era. We believe that a gene-based and a resource-based disease management approach should allow us to incorporate these new scientific developments. However, we do need to incorporate the new science for fundamental research to solve practical problems of rice production.

publication date

  • 2004
  • 2004
  • 2004