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Optimal control of epidemics

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Megan Cooper.

The four main methods of controlling plant pathogens are usage of genetically resistant cultivar, cultural control, biological control and the deployment of pesticide/fungicide. Cultural control, that is removal of infectious hosts, is commonly used when the other methods are not available, in particular in developing nations or in horticulture. The standard practice is then roguing – whenever infectious host is discovered, it is removed from the population. However, because of asymptomatic infections this is not always effective. In the case of many pathogens such as the bacterium Xanthomonas Axonopodis, significant improvement can be achieved by proactive control. Whenever an infectious host is identified, it is removed and with it all the hosts within the so called culling radius. Computational models are then used to determine the optimal culling radius. This type of control is very effective for pathogens with short-range dispersal but less effective in the case of pathogens with a very long-range dispersal such as Chalara fraxiena. This is because when the inoculum can travel long distances the culling radius would have to be unfeasibly large to stop the spread of the epidemic. In this talk I will discuss several techniques of modelling the spread of secondary infection and show how reduction of the host density, also known as thinning, can be used in the management of pathogens with long-range dispersal patterns.

This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Research Seminars series.

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