All course information is listed within this syllabus.

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

Prerequisites: None


Instructor for AGBIO/PPATH 802.

Seogchan Kang, Ph.D.

Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology
311 Buckhout Laboratory
University Park, PA 16802

E-mail: Use Canvas Inbox

If you need to contact me regarding your course, the best way is to send an e-mail through the Canvas Inbox. I will respond within 24–48 hours unless I am traveling or other circumstances limit my ability to use e-mail.

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 directory page.

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 a broad education in agricultural biosecurity issues with a 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 the 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 regard 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.

Course Schedule

For due dates, refer to the Course Summary on the Syllabus page in Canvas.


Students are expected to keep up with the material, 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.

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 the 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 Schumann 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 articles, videos, or websites) will be provided. If requested, additional reading materials will be provided. Please do not hesitate to contact the instructor.

Grading Policy

The turnaround time for graded assignments is generally one week or less.

The following table is the grading criteria for the course.

Grading Criteria
Requirement Cumulative Point Value
Assignments 70
Research Reports 30
TOTAL: 100
Optional Bonus Quiz 5

The following table is the grading scheme for the course.

Grading Scheme
Letter Grade Percentage
A 100% – 94%
A- < 94% – 90%
B+ < 90% – 87%
B < 87% – 84%
B- < 84% – 80%
C+ < 80% – 77%
C < 77% – 70%
D < 70% – 60%
F < 60%

Please refer to the University Grading Policy for Graduate Courses for additional information.

NOTE: If you are planning to graduate this semester, please communicate your intent to graduate to your instructor. This will alert your instructor to the need to submit your final grade in time to meet the published graduation deadlines. For more information about graduation policies and deadlines, please see "Graduation" under World Campus Student Resources.

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Technical Requirements

This course is offered online and it is assumed you possess the minimum system requirements and computing skills to participate effectively. A list of technical requirements is listed on World Campus' Penn State Technical Requirements page.

Minimum Skills

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Subject to Change Statement

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