Further information on Fall 2019 courses


Bob Nyvall: Effect of Plant Diseases on People’s Lives, Past and Present


Course text

Readings will be distributed at each session; a cost of $5 will be added to tuition.


Schedule of classes (subject to modification)

Class 1.  How plant diseases occur with discussion of different pathogens, how they infect plants, symptoms and their management.

Class 2.  Potato late blight (Irish potato famine).  Interaction of consuming diseased food and the Bubonic plague.

Class 3.  Joseph and his many-colored coat related to wheat stem rust and the Biblical Exodus.  Downfall of Roman Empire.  Dr. Stakman’s discovery of spore migration and Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Norman Borlaug.

Class 4.  Ergot and its relationship to Russian geography and Salem Witch trials.

Class 5.  South American leaf blight and its  effect on Henry Ford’s car industry. Banana diseases and their effect on politics.  Coffee rust and why the British are tea drinkers.  Discussion of monocultures.

Class 6.  Dutch elm disease. Oak wilt, white pine blister rust, chestnut blight, fruit tree and vegetable diseases

Class 7.  Rice and wild rice diseases.  Corn diseases concentrating on southern corn leaf blight and how cultural practices affect diseases.

Class 8.  Discovery of penicillium and useful products from microorganisms.  Potential new harmful plant diseases on cocoa, coffee, wheat, and other plants.