This chapter describes the history and continuing impact of the rust fungus, Hemileia vastatrix, on coffee crops. In the 19th century, this pathogen wiped-out coffee crops in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and transformed the country into a tea-producing island. The scientist Harry Marshall Ward played a key role in the story of coffee rust, and was posted to Ceylon in 1880 to identify the cause of the epidemic. Coffee rust remains an exceedingly important agricultural problem in the developing world. A diversity of stories about the biology and sociology of this fungal disease of international importance is presented.
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