Is COVID-19 impacting plant science, and is plant science impacting COVID-19?
Keywords:food security; herbal and medicinal plants; pandemic; plant-based medicine and vaccines; plant research; SARS-CoV-2; viruses
COVID-19 changed 2020 massively after becoming a worldwide pandemic. Many countries affected by the disease witnessed disruptions in the agricultural, farming, industry, production and distribution sectors, causing a loss of crops due to reduced consumer demand. Sales of cut flowers, potted plants and seasonal crops that are sensitive to specific seasons or dates were affected, as were fertilizer and food security. Academics, including plant scientists, with limited work or research conditions during the pandemic, alleviated their work through alternative approaches, e.g., in silico research, or made more time to writing research papers, while student education has largely been placed on hold or held online by lecturers. Most COVID-19 research has focused primarily on medical and social aspects while some plant science-related research has been conducted on the use of traditional medicinal plants as possible alleviating agents, but not cures, to COVID-19 patients. The integrity of science and publishing, including research related to plants, is being tested as cases of superficial research, lax or superficial peer review, and misinformation abound. COVID-19 has thus had limited impact on plant science, and vice versa, thus far, even though it is likely that most plant scientists were affected.
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