Range and severity of a plant disease increased by global warming
Semenov, Mikhail A.
Fitt, Bruce D.L.
Climate change affects plants in natural and agricultural ecosystems throughout the world but little work has been done on the effects of climate change on plant disease epidemics. To illustrate such effects, a weather-based disease forecasting model was combined with a climate change model predicting UK temperature and rainfall under high-and low-carbon emissions for the 2020s and 2050s. Multi-site data collected over a 15-year period were used to develop and validate a weather-based model forecasting severity of phoma stem canker epidemics on oilseed rape across the UK. This was combined with climate change scenarios to predict that epidemics will not only increase in severity but also spread northwards by the 2020s. These results provide a stimulus to develop models to predict the effects of climate change on other plant diseases, especially in delicately balanced agricultural or natural ecosystems. Such predictions can be used to guide policy and practice in adapting to effects of climate change on food security and wildlife.