The global burden of pathogens and pests on major food crops

Serge Savary, Laetitia Willocquet, S.J. Pethybridge, Paul D. Esker, Neil McRoberts, A.D. Nelson (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1655 Citations (Scopus)
1758 Downloads (Pure)


Crop pathogens and pests reduce the yield and quality of agricultural production. They cause substantial economic losses and reduce food security at household, national and global levels. Quantitative, standardised information on crop losses is difficult to compile and compare across crops, agroecosystems and regions. Here we report on an expert-based assessment of crop health and provide numerical estimates of yield losses on an individual pathogen and pest basis for five major crops globally and in food security hotspots. Our results document losses associated with 137 pathogens and pests associated with wheat, rice, maize, potato, and soybean worldwide. Our yield loss estimates at a global level and per hotspot (range in brackets) for wheat: 21.5% (10.1% – 28.1%), rice: 30.0% (24.6% - 40.9%), maize: 22.5% (19.5% - 41.1%), potato: 17.2% (8.1% - 21.0%) and soybean: 21.4% (11.0% - 32.4%) suggest that the highest losses are associated with food deficit regions with fast growing populations and frequently with emerging or re-emerging pests and diseases. Our assessment highlights differences in impacts among crop pathogens and pests and among food security hotspots. This analysis contributes critical information to prioritise crop health management in order to improve the sustainability of agroecosystems in delivering services to societies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10.1038/s41559-018-0793-y
Pages (from-to)430-439
Number of pages10
JournalNature Ecology & Evolution
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2019


  • 22/4 OA procedure


Dive into the research topics of 'The global burden of pathogens and pests on major food crops'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this