blight, general term for any sudden and severe plant disease or for the agent that causes it. The term is now applied chiefly to diseases caused by bacteria (e.g., bean blights and fire blight of fruit trees), viruses (e.g., soybean bud blight), fungi (e.g., chestnut blight), and protists (e.g., potato blight). Other plant afflictions (caused by insects or unfavorable climatic conditions) that display similar symptoms are also called blights. See diseases of plants.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.