Division of Plant Health
The research objective is directed towards crop protection. Methods are developed that lead to the prevention or reduction of losses caused by harmful organisms – both in crops and stored products. Research also focuses on the elimination of the negative environmental impacts of crop protection by minimizing the use of synthetic pesticides. Their replacement with biological or other alternative protective measures seeks to ensure the high quality of products and minimize the risks of residual pesticides occurring in food chains. The main goals of the Division include the improvement of the integrated protection of plants against certain harmful organisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, nematodes and insect pests on field crops (e.g. small grains, corn, potatoes, rapes, etc.), fruit trees (e.g. stone and pome fruit), grapevine, vegetables, and technical crops (e.g. sorghum, sorrel, etc.)
A long-term research activity is the diagnosis of pests including the innovation of new determination methods. In particular, the diagnostics of quarantine and economically important organisms are elaborated. At present, studies of the biology, ecology and epidemiology of harmful organisms provide the basis for developing new strategies in crop protection. A more comprehensive understanding of the relationships between plant fitness, resistance to harmful organisms and functioning of agro-ecosystems is thus a prime objective. Also methods of detection and diagnostics of pests’ resistance to pesticides are developed and used to monitor pest resistance occurrence and to develop anti-resistance strategies.
The new research directions of the Division include the pathogen and pest genomics, transgenesis for enhancing plant resistance to pathogens and pests, and proteomics for the detection of bio-contaminants in stored food and plant products. Besides research on the sources and mechanisms of plant resistance, this priority is closely linked to research in the field of genetics and the cultivation of plants resistant or tolerant to biotic stress. Another research topic is the evaluation of risk assessment of transgenic plants used to fight harmful organisms.
Research outcomes are used by crop growers, entities storing plant commodities, as well as government agencies. In addition to research activities, the Division coordinates the National Programme for Conservation and Utilization of Small Organisms and Micro-Organisms Significant for Agriculture.
The Division has six departments:
Jiban Kumar Kundu, PhD. – Head of Division