Welcome from the President and the Chairman

The significance of plant pathology to mankind has never been greater. We face an unprecedented challenge of preparing to feed the 11 billion people who are likely to be alive by the year 2050, yet we cannot come close to satisfying the 5 billion who are alive today. At the same time we have at our disposal unprecedented opportunities for better crop protection which, with good management, can radically reduce the crop losses caused by pathogens and other agents which are estimated globally to negate 30% of what should be turned into food.

In meeting this aim, plant pathologists can contribute a sustainable element to global food security. We have a particular responsibility to consider the health of our environment as we protect our crops. And we should husband the world's resources of biodiversity, which in turn provide a key basis for genetic resistance to disease.

We planned a Congress to address these challenges, signal the opportunities, and excite everyone who comes with something that they had not expected to find.

The radical new programme structure has been designed to match our perception of modern plant pathology. It has just five themes. Our understanding of plant-pathogen interactions has made remarkable progress since we last met in Montreal, especially through rapid advances at the molecular level. One of the challenges of our Edinburgh Congress will be to review the status of today's extensive research in this field, evaluate its practical significance, and assess the needs of the next five years. Advances in population biology, ecology and epidemiology have also been striking and are well represented at Edinburgh. We have challenged our contributors to assess the results of research programmes against the test of their contribution to the application to plant pathology in practice. We have ensured that the needs of both developed and developing countries are well represented through the theme of global perspectives, with due attention given to the impact of information technology. And we invite analysis of the many new control options covering cropping systems, biological control, genetic manipulation and novel approaches to the use of pesticides.

Through these themes, we are confident of meeting our declared aims:

  • to improve the scientific understanding of plant diseases
  • to encourage interaction between scientists of all ages throughout the developed and developing worlds
  • to solve problems in plant pathology through debate, enquiry, analysis and innovation, and through application of the latest technologies
  • to contribute to effective and sustainable disease management
  • to support global food security and environmental protection.

We warmly invite you to enjoy the programme of the Congress through this collection of abstracts.

David Ingram
Congress President
Peter Scott
Chairman, Organising Committee