SITE VISIT: The Science of Sick Plants

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Science  12 Jun 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5370, pp. 1663
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5370.1663a

Like medical doctors, plant pathologists need to keep a wide range of sciences in their little black bags—everything from molecular biology to entomology. A good way to keep track of all this expertise is to consult The Plant Pathology Internet Guide Book (PPIGB), a directory that describes and rates thousands of sites related to plant diseases and their treatments.

The 3000 links range from home pages on gypsy moths to primers on Karnal bunt fungus and databases of herbicide-resistant weeds. Thorsten Kraska of the University of Bonn in Germany, who created PPIGB (hosted at the University of Hannover), annotates each site and marks the best with a special symbol. They're sorted into 25 sections, including disciplines (such as bacteriology, nematology, and mycology), topics (integrated pest management, for example), and resources (meetings, jobs, journals, and education). There's a page where new entries are noted, a search function, and even a “lost NOT found” that notes broken links.

Attesting to its popularity, PPIGB has mirrors sponsored by phytopathology societies in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. A search engine could find many of the listed sites, of course. But as plant pathologist James MacDonald of the University of California, Davis, says, “It's nice to go to a place where there's been a presorting.”

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