PPATH 505: Fundamentals of Phytopathology (Spring 2018)

Using the primary literature of the discipline, students will explore, in-depth, the knowledge base of plant pathology.


  • Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology


PPATH 505 Fundamentals of Phytopathology is an in-depth tutorial of the fundamental theories and concepts of plant pathology and builds on what was learned in PPEM 405 (Microbe-Plant Interactions) or similar introductory plant pathology courses. The course is designed to review basic principles and new advances in plant pathology, encourage examination of literature of the discipline, and develop your skills to analyze, evaluate, and synthesize information.

The course will be lecture-based with a strong component of discussion in class. Participation in class is strongly encouraged and will be considered in the final grade. The course will be handled through the Canvas course management system. Handouts, slides, reading material, and assignments will be placed on the Canvas site for this course.

Course Logistics

Instructor: Dr. María del Mar Jiménez Gasco, Associate Professor, Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology
Office: 309 Buckhout Lab
Phone: 814-863-2355
Lab: 403 Buckhout Lab
Office Hours: Please feel free to stop by my office at any time. If you wish to make an appointment, it is most efficient to e-mail a request for a meeting listing dates and times you are available.

Class Meeting Times: Mon/Wed | 1:25-3:20 p.m.
Class Location: 103 Buckhout Lab
Course Credits: 3 credits

Learning Objectives

  • To review Plant Pathology concepts and the fundamental interactions among pathogens, plants and the environment that occur over time and result in disease within the conceptual frame of population biology.
  • To gain knowledge on the latest technologies applied to plant pathology and develop an ability to formulate research strategies based on this understanding.
  • To develop an appreciation for the scientific work upon which the present knowledge rests and become aware of the scientists who developed the concepts and methods currently in use.
  • To develop the ability to formulate thorough, accurate, verifiable, fully referenced responses to questions.
  • To become a critical thinker.

Course Assignments

There will be several take-home assignments and problems. Additionally, students will have to prepare and deliver a class lecture and a final essay. Two of the course objectives are “to develop an appreciation for the scientific work” and “to develop the ability to formulate thorough, accurate, verifiable, fully-referenced responses to questions.”

For all the written assignments, all factual statements must be referenced, and speculations and conclusions must be supported with appropriately cited work. Try to avoid excessively citing Agrios or similar plant pathology textbooks. Do not cite web pages unless that material is permanently archived. All writing must be accurate, precise, concise, and fully referenced.

Deadlines will be provided for all written assignments. Ultimately, all assignments must be completed by the end of the semester, even if they are submitted late. If assignments are not submitted by the end of the semester, the final grade may be recorded as DF (Deferred grade due to extenuating circumstances) after discussing the circumstances with the instructor. DF allows you ten weeks following the end date of the course (as it appears in the University Registrar’s Schedule of Courses) to complete the work. According to university policy, you will not be allowed to take a doctoral candidacy exam, comprehensive exam, or defend a thesis or dissertation as long as there is a DF grade on your transcript.

The instructor reserves the right to make adjustments to the syllabus, assignments, and schedule as necessary and will announce such changes in class.

Course Grading

ActivityTotal Points
Assignments and problems 100
Mid-term exams 300
Final essay 100
Final exam 300
Lecture assignment 150
Class participation 50
TOTAL 1,000

You will be assigned a grade for this course based on the number of points that you earn according to the following scale:

Grade% Total Pts
A 93-100
A- 90-92
B+ 87-89
B 83-86
B- 80-82
C+ 77-79
C 70-77
D 60-69
F <60

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In compliance with Pennsylvania Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control recommendation, students should NOT attend class or any public gatherings while ill with influenza. Students with flu symptoms will be asked to leave campus if possible and to return home during recovery. The illness and self-isolation period will usually be about a week. It is very important that individuals avoid spreading the flu to others. Students with the flu do not need to provide a physician's certification of illness. However, ill students should inform their teachers (but not through personal contact in which there is a risk of exposing others to the virus) as soon as possible that they are absent because of the flu. Likewise students should contact their instructors as quickly as possible to arrange to make up missed assignments or exams.

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