Plant Pathology Academics


This department has a long history of internationally recognized basic and applied research on diseases caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses and nematodes in agriculture. Climatic conditions in Louisiana allow cultivation and research of semitropical crop species such as rice, sugarcane, cotton, sweet potatoes, soybeans, corn, fruit crops, grain sorghum and small grains, ornamentals, turf grass and vegetable crops. Graduate students have the opportunity to work with Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station personnel who are conducting investigations in plant pathology and crop physiology. Research problems may also be selected in plant molecular biology.

Plant Pathology

A plant pathologist is a scientist who specializes in diseases of plants that may be caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses, nematodes and abiotic agents. The task of keeping plants healthy calls for knowledge of these organisms as well as related disciplines such as biochemistry, botany, ecology, epidemiology, genetics, microbiology, molecular biology and physiology. One or more of these disciplines are used to investigate the mechanisms by which pathogens cause disease and by which plants resist infection. Plant pathologists were among the first to use biotechnological and genetic engineering techniques in the plant sciences. Classical means of disease control, such as chemical, biological and cultural, also are studied.

Crop Physiology

Crop physiologists use basic and applied research to understand how plants function. Research in crop physiology has had major impacts on agricultural practices and our knowledge of life processes. It is an important component of the biotechnology revolution. Crop physiology has now become broadly defined and includes a wide range of areas including developmental biology, tissue culture, stress physiology and molecular biology. In addition to academic positions, crop physiologists work in government agencies to conduct research on improvements in food and fiber production and in the private sector in plant biotechnology and tissue culture laboratories, agricultural industries and environmental agencies.



Graduate Programs

High-quality graduate education. Our graduate program presents students the opportunity to work with LSU AgCenter faculty who conduct investigations in areas of plant pathology, crop physiology and plant molecular biology. M.S. and Ph.D. graduates of the department are prepared for challenging careers in agricultural research at universities, governmental and private agencies. Classes include: plant pathology, phytobacteriology, phytonematology, plant virology, mycology, plant disease management, seed physiology and molecular biology. There are seminars and visits by national and international scientists from government, industry and academia. The department has partnerships with universities worldwide.

Active and award-winning graduate students. Our graduate student travel to regional, national and international meetings and to unique geographical areas and leading agricultural facilities. An active departmental graduate student association hosts visitors and plans workshops and activities designed to strengthen professional skills and knowledge of laboratory techniques and plant pathology. Graduate students have been recognized for their quality research, scholastic achievements and leadership and communication skills by the: National Science Foundation, Crop Science Society of America, American Phytopathological Society, Louisiana Agricultural Consultants Association, LSU College of Agriculture, Sigma Xi, USDA Agriculture Food and Research Initiative.

  • Enroll in the M.S. degree program. Students wishing to continue their studies in the Department for the Ph.D. would need to reapply for admission to the graduate program.
  • Enroll in the Ph.D. program. Applicants without an M.S. in Plant Pathology or a closely related field of study will be required to receive an M.S. degree in the course of their Ph.D. by doing the following: complete the M.S. course degree requirements, complete the “Introduction and “Literature Review” sections of their dissertation and a minimum of one chapter related to their research, submit these to their Advisory Committee, and have them approved at the M.S. exam. This M.S. thesis will then be submitted to the graduate school.
  • Enroll in the M.S. non-thesis program. This program requires 36 hours of graduate level coursework to be selected by the students committee. Students who enroll in this program will not be eligible for the Ph.D. program in Plant Pathology at LSU.