A Beacon for Applied Plant Pathology: The Origins of Plant Disease. Academic Article uri icon


  • This year marks a full century since the founding of the journal Plant Disease. The story of how the journal developed, from its origins as a service publication of the USDA in 1917 to the leading applied journal in the field today, reflects on major historical themes in plant pathology. Central to this narrative is the delicate balancing act in plant pathology between fundamental and applied science. During the 1960s and 1970s, substantial numbers of plant pathologists in the U.S. expressed concerns through the American Phytopathological Society (APS) over what they viewed as an alarming and increasing scarcity of applied papers in the flagship journal, Phytopathology. These concerns led increasingly to calls for a second APS journal devoted to applied research. After a period of uncertainty and indecision, the dissolution of the USDA Plant Disease Reporter (PDR) in 1979 offered APS leadership an unusual opportunity to assume publication of a journal with a 63-year legacy of publishing practical plant pathology. In a bold move, APS Council, with the decision in 1979 to take on the publication of PDR under the new title, Plant Disease, provided plant pathologists and the larger agricultural science community with an innovative vehicle to communicate applied plant pathology.

published proceedings

  • Plant Dis

altmetric score

  • 10.8

author list (cited authors)

  • Peterson, P. D., Nelson, S. C., & Scholthof, K.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Peterson, Paul D||Nelson, Steve C||Scholthof, Karen-Beth G

publication date

  • November 2017