AGBIO 802 Syllabus

AGBIO 802 (PPATH 802) Plant Protection: Responding to Introductions of Threatening Pests and Pathogens (3). This course provides knowledge of plant biosecurity, plant disease, regulations, and technologies using case study examples.


Seogchan KangSeogchan Kang, Ph.D.
Professor of Plant Pathology

Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology
311 Buckhout Lab
University Park PA 16802
Email: Use Angel email

Educational Background

  • B.S., Seoul National University Chemistry
  • M.S., Seoul National University Chemistry
  • Ph.D., University of Wisconsin Physiological Chemistry

Research Interests

Plant-fungal pathogen interactions; Fungal genomics and informatics; Plant pathogen databases

For more information, please visit Seogchan Kang's Lab.

Course Overview

This course covers agricultural biosecurity issues relevant to plant-based agriculture. Topics include the size and scope of plant-based agriculture domestically and globally, the concept of plant disease, the nature of threats to plant health, modes of transmission of pests and pathogens and the role of government and other public institutions in protecting the nation’s agricultural and forest systems. Information on the regulatory component of plant protection and how they function will be included.

Case studies of introductions of major pests and pathogens will be reviewed in depth and comprise the majority of the course. These cases are selected to represent different means of introduction and different types of pests or pathogens. Various strategies and technologies developed for prevention, detection, response, and recovery will be considered and compared. The intended and unintended influences that governmental regulations, industry practices and international agreements can have on the spread of plant pathogens and pests will also be discussed. Finally, an assessment of readiness for future pathogen/pest introductions will be synthesized and presented.

Course Objectives

This Course aims to provide broad education in agricultural biosecurity issues with the focus on plant-based agriculture and forest systems. By the end of the course students should be able to:

  • Describe the scope and value of plant-based agriculture.
  • Understand the threat of bio-terrorism, as well as natural and accidental introductions of high threat pests and pathogens, to agriculture, the environment, and society in general.
  • Enumerate the main categories of biological and abiotic threats to plant health.
  • Explain the concept of the plant disease triangle.
  • Describe main modes of plant disease transmission.
  • Understand strategies for identifying, detecting and tracking plant pests and pathogens.
  • Recognize the importance and benefits of international cooperation and collaboration in enhancing plant biosecurity.
  • Identify major challenges associated with preventing and managing different types of pathogens and pests.
  • Distinguish between the roles of state and federal officials in plant protection and regulatory responsibility, especially in regards to the discovery of and response to exotic pests and pathogens.
  • Understand the roles of land grant universities in plant biosecurity.
  • Recognize strengths and weaknesses of response to previous introductions of exotic pests and pathogens.
  • Identify critical knowledge gaps that impede effective prevention, detection, response or recovery from introductions of exotic pests and pathogens.
  • Evaluate the context of potential introductions and formulate a response plan based on available information.

Recommended Course Materials

A textbook is not required for this course.

The book “Crop Security: Assuring Our Global Food Supply,” edited by Gullino et. al. and published by Springer in 2008, provides an excellent overview of major issues germane to global crop biosecurity. 

A report from National Research Council of the National Academies, entitled “Countering Agricultural Bioterrorism”, also provides in depth assessment and discussion on U.S. preparedness for biological threats to plant-based agriculture and animals. 

Two textbooks, Plant Pathology by George Agrios (Academic Press) and Essential Plant Pathology by Gail Schmann and Cleora D’Arcy (APS Press), are good reference sources for those who want to learn more about plant pathology.

For each lesson in the course, key reference materials (review article, video, or web site) will be provided. If requested, additional reading materials will be provided. Please do not hesitate to contact the instructor

Online Students Use of the Library

As Penn State World Campus students, you have access to many of the materials that the library offers to students. The library website has a lot to offer, but can be overwhelming. A guide has been created to serve as your introduction to important library resources, services, and important pages within the library. The Online Student Library Guideis updated regularly by the online librarian and is intended to provide a level of comfort through introduction to help you feel comfortable navigating the library website to find valuable information for your coursework.

Assignments and Grading

Task Point Value


  • 1 at 5 points
  • 4 at 10 points
  • 1 at 15 points
Open-book quiz

Research reports:

  • 1 at 10 points
  • 1 at 20 points




Students are expected to keep up with the material and assignments and projects on time. However, the instructor recognizes that there are times when it is necessary for the student, because of illness or other circumstances, to be unable to complete assignments on time. It is the student's responsibility to contact the instructor to arrange more time or alternative assignments. Failure to do so in a timely fashion may result in a zero grade for the missed assignments


PSU Policies

Log-In Policy

Students are expected to log-in regularly to keep up-to date with announcements, discussions, etc. The class will progress at a regular pace throughout the semester and there are specific due dates and times for assignments, etc.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, students should act with personal integrity, respect other students' dignity, rights and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts. Academic integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others (see Faculty Senate Policy 49-20, G-9 Procedures and the Code of Conduct).

Read the Academic Integrity Guidelines for the College of Agricultural Sciences

A lack of knowledge or understanding of the University’s Academic Integrity policy and the types of actions it prohibits and/or requires does not excuse one from complying with the policy. Penn State and the College of Agricultural Sciences take violations of academic integrity very seriously. Faculty, alumni, staff and fellow students expect each student to uphold the University’s standards of academic integrity both inside and outside of the classroom.

Copyright Notice

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

Accommodations for Persons with Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University’s educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources Web site provides contact information for every Penn State campus. For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources Web site.

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation. If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Accommodations for Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Use of Trade Names

Where trade names are used, no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the World Campus, Outreach and Cooperative Extension, the College of Agricultural Sciences, or The Pennsylvania State University is implied.

Subject to Change Statement

Please note that this Course Syllabus is subject to change. Students are responsible for abiding by such changes.