Since 1924, the overarching mission of the Department of Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology has been to advance and disseminate knowledge about the microorganisms and abiotic stresses that cause plant diseases and their management in agronomic and horticultural crops, as well as coastal plants, grown in Louisiana. Plant diseases and environmental stress seriously limit crop production in Louisiana. New diseases continue to appear because of changes in varieties and cultural practices and genetic shifts in existing populations of pathogens. In addition, new diseases are introduced into Louisiana from other states and countries. Faculty have led efforts to improve the management of diseases caused by plant pathogens (fungi, bacteria, viruses and nematodes) and environmental stress (temperature extremes, excess moisture, mineral toxicities) through programs of research, extension and teaching related to Louisiana commodities that include corn, cotton, fruit crops, grain crops, ornamentals, rice, soybean, sugarcane, sweet potato, turfgrass, vegetable crops and coastal plants.
The programs in this department have fulfilled and continue to fulfill the institutional role, scope and mission of the LSU AgCenter by generating basic knowledge and applied solutions to plant diseases and abiotic problems of agricultural industries that are critically important to the economy of Louisiana while educating future scientists through our M. S. and Ph. D. programs. The disease-conducive environment in Louisiana and the latest incursions of new pathogens and pathogen-vectors into the state make it clear that plant diseases are, and will continue to be, one of the primary limiting factors in crop production (e.g., Asian soybean rust, citrus greening, bacterial blight of rice), in the home and urban landscapes (daylily rust), and in the environment (sudden oak death). Each time a new pathogen arrives and a new disease outbreak occurs in Louisiana, it is the Department of Plant Pathology & Crop Physiology that has provided the leadership for generating basic knowledge and applied solutions for managing these diseases, as well as environmental stresses.