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A plant pathologist or a student taking plant pathology is often asked by friends or associates the following questions. What is wrong with my plant; followed by, what can I do to get rid of the problem? It may be too late to help the specific plant when the question is asked, but proper diagnosis may be extremely important in preventing the problem on other plants or in preventing the problem in the future.

How does a plant pathologist or a plant pathology student go about diagnosing plant problems? The diagnostician must have very good observation skills, and s/he also needs to be a good detective. It is important to keep an open mind until all of the facts related to the problem can be collected. The possibility of multiple causal factors must also be considered.

Control measures depend on proper identification of diseases and of the causal agents. Therefore, diagnosis is one of the most important aspects of a plant pathologist's training. Without proper identification of the disease and the disease-causing agent, disease control measures can be a waste of time and money and can lead to further plant losses. Proper disease diagnosis is therefore vital.

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