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Featured Collection

D-Lib Magazine
May 2002

Volume 8 Number 5

ISSN 1082-9873

Vegetable MD Online

Image of seed packet

Seed packet for Winter Squash. Courtesy of Vegetable MD Online.

Most gardeners can relate to seed packets, so it was only natural that Tom Zitter, Professor of Plant Pathology at Cornell University, created the Vegetable MD Online web site centered on the use of seed packets as a visual means of orienting viewers to the comprehensive list of Diseases by Crops.

Vegetables are an important component of our varied daily diets (literally from asparagus to zucchini), and maintaining vegetable appearance and supply depends upon sound agricultural and gardening practices. Developing a web page that was both attractive and informative to growers, extension educators, home gardeners, and consumers was a major goal. The Internet has clearly been shown to be the ideal means for providing current information with extensive use of color photographs. Vegetable MD Online was successfully launched in 2000, and the site was registered at Cornell University and is maintained in the Plant Pathology Department at Ithaca, New York.

Photograph of potato scab

Photograph of common scab of potato. Copyright Thomas A. Zitter. Used with permission.

Plant pathology is the science that studies the causes and control of diseases resulting from both biotic and abiotic factors. Since not everyone is familiar with scientific terms used in the vegetable disease fact sheets, a link is provided to Glossary of Technical Terms in Plant Pathology. Biotic diseases are caused by microorganisms that include fungi, bacteria, viruses and nematodes, and these can be isolated, identified, and even reintroduced into a healthy plant to prove pathogenicity. On the other hand, abiotic factors include environmental injuries like nutritional deficiencies and chemical toxicities that are not readily reproduced. Realizing that everyone did not have immediate access to a diagnostician, Zitter added a Photo Gallery that illustrates the most common symptoms associated with biotic and abiotic factors for each crop.

Photograph of smut of sweet corn

Photograph of common smut of sweet corn. Copyright Thomas A. Zitter.
Used with permission.

Many diseases are known by their common names such as common scab of potato (a bacterial disease) or common smut of sweet corn (a fungal disease, actually sold as a delicacy in Mexico), which are more or less self explanatory (both illustrated). But mention the Irish potato famine and it may not be readily known that this historically significant disease is caused by an organism now listed in a kingdom distinct from those of fungi, bacteria, animals and even plants. By referring to News Articles/Disease Alerts the reader can locate a listing of the most important vegetable diseases, with both common scientific names, a picture, and the length of time required between crops to reduce the impact of carryover inoculum.

With another gardening season upon us, you may wish to explore the interesting collection of plant diseases by visiting the Vegetable MD Online web site at <>.


Copyright© 2002 Corporation for National Research Initiatives

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DOI: 10.1045/may2002-featured.collection