Research in plant protection involves investigations of insect, disease, and weed pests that threaten our food supply and green spaces by reducing crop productivity and the aesthetic qualities of ornamental plants. Ongoing research efforts to develop disease-resistant plant varieties, to study insect pest behavior, and to understand the emergence of herbicide-resistant weeds have contributed greatly to the protection of our crop and ornamental production systems from potentially devastating epidemics and infestations.
Entomologists within the Department of Crop Sciences focus their research thrusts on the development of management programs for insect pests of field crops such as corn and soybeans as well as fruit and vegetable crops. An emphasis is placed on research that delivers effective IPM strategies for growers who can implement more sustainable practices on their farms. Other entomology opportunities within the department include conducting research on insects that may affect biomass accumulation of perennial grasses used as feedstocks in the production of biofuels. Additional research in modeling seeks to improve our understanding of resistance development to transgenic crops such as Bt corn.
Plant pathologists study fungi, bacteria, viruses, nematodes, and other microbes that cause diseases of plants. Plant pathology focuses on understanding how hosts, pathogens, and environments interact to cause plant diseases and on understanding how to control plant diseases. Plant pathology is a prosperous area for basic biological research as well as an integral part of maintaining sustainable, environmentally friendly, agricultural production systems.
Weed science is a very dynamic field of research integrating cultural, mechanical, chemical, and biological management techniques to obtain economically and environmentally sustainable weed management systems. Research interests and expertise of the weed science faculty include: molecular and biochemical mechanisms of herbicide selectivity, evolution of herbicide-resistant weeds, weed ecology and biology, soil-herbicide interactions, evaluation of new herbicides, and weed-crop competition. Emphasis is on solving weed management problems in Illinois crops through basic and applied research.