Gail Schumann, PhD

Gail Schumann is Professor Emerita of plant pathology from the University of Massachusetts and author of the book Plant Diseases: Their Biology and Social Impact. She is currently Editor-in-Chief of the APSnet Education Center and an adjunct professor at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI.

Gail Schumann

Science Facts Written by Gail Schumann, PhD


Ergot, Witches & Rye. Oh My!

Did you know that a disease of rye is connected to LSD and witches? Ergot is caused by a fungus that attacks a number of cereal grains, but rye is most severely infected. The healthy grains are ... Continue reading

Black ergots (sclerotia) replace the grains of an infected barley plant. (Used by permission of American Phytopathological Society)

The Gingerbread Man

Did you know that gingerbread came about because of a smut disease of wheat? ... Continue reading

Cloud of smut spores released as wheat is harvested. (Used by permission of American Phytopathological Society) Black smut spores replace the grain in infected wheat plants.

Yes! We Have New Bananas

Did you know that a plant disease determined what banana variety is in your market? Bananas, which originated in Africa and are now grown in every tropical region, are perhaps the most popular fruit ... Continue reading

Wilting banana plants with Panama disease (Fusarium wilt).

Luck Of The Irish?

In the 1800s many Irish were poor tenant farmers who farmed mainly for the landowner and relied on small plots for their own food. Because high yields of potatoes could be obtained from these small ... Continue reading

A potato leaf with late blight. Note the white sporangia of the fungus that are water or air borne to new plants and the potato tubers in the soil.

Tea Time!

Did you know that a disease of coffee plantations made the British tea drinkers? In the 1700s Britain had many coffeehouses that served as popular social gathering places to discuss current events and ... Continue reading

Coffee rust lesions often concentrate on the margins and tips of coffee leaves.