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“Phytopathological strolls” in the dual context of COVID‐19 lockdown and IYPH2020: Transforming constraints into an opportunity for public education about plant pathogens

Abstract : The experience presented here relates to 2020, a particularly timely year for plant disease-related communication (International Year of Plant Health, IYPH2020), but also a unique year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our goal was to illustrate the diversity and beauty of fungal plant pathogens through a naturalist approach that could be followed by any amateur. We achieved this end through "phytopathological strolls", in which we observed and determined the origin of symptoms on diseased plants found in our garden, in the local streets, and in nearby open spaces, and shared this matter with a broad public. The lockdown imposed in France created an additional motivation to take up the challenge, and to involve our children, even under strong constraints such as movement restrictions. We observed and described fungal pathogens through hundreds of photographs, shared our findings with a large audience on Twitter, and received feedback. The material used was deliberately simple and transportable: a digital reflex camera, an old microscope, a mobile phone, some books, and an internet connection. Between 17 March 2020 and 20 June 2021 we found 196 plant pathogens, including 97 rusts, 27 powdery mildews, and 28 septoria-like diseases. We discuss here the importance of promoting searches for plant pathogens, their description and conservation, through a combination of classical approaches and digital tools in tune with the times, such as Twitter, by treating pathogen identification like a detective game and, more surprisingly, by making use of the addictive nature of collection approaches, drawing a parallel with Pokemon GO.
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https://hal.inrae.fr/hal-03313037
Contributor : Christine Guillard <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, August 3, 2021 - 11:25:58 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, August 5, 2021 - 3:35:21 AM

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Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution - NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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Frédéric Suffert, Muriel Suffert. “Phytopathological strolls” in the dual context of COVID‐19 lockdown and IYPH2020: Transforming constraints into an opportunity for public education about plant pathogens. Plant Pathology, Wiley, 2021, ⟨10.1111/ppa.13430⟩. ⟨hal-03313037⟩

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