Variation in resistance to multiple pathogen species: anther-smuts of Silene uniflora

Chung Erin, Elsa Petit, Janis Antonovics, Amy Pedersen, Michael E. Hood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The occurrence of multiple pathogen species on a shared host species is unexpected when they exploit the same micro-niche within the host. One explanation for such observations is the evolution of pathogen-specific resistances that segregate the host population into sites that are differentially occupiable by the competing pathogens. This study used experimental inoculations to test whether specific resistances may contribute to the maintenance of two anther-smut fungi, Microbotryum silenes-inflatae and Microbotryum lagerheimii, in natural populations of Silene uniflora in England and Wales. Overall, resistance to the two pathogens was strongly positively correlated among host populations and to a lesser degree among host families within populations. A few instances of specific resistance were also observed and confirmed by replicated inoculations. The potential for specific resistances to maintain both M. lagerheimii and M. silenes-inflatae on S. uniflora appears unlikely. However, there are important implications of the observed general resistance in that selection by an endemic pathogen may protect the host from the emergence via host shifts of related pathogens and interspecific competition between pathogens for susceptible hosts is expected to be intensified.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)2304-2314
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number9
Early online date10 Jul 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Co-infection
  • general resistance
  • host specificity
  • Microbotryum
  • multi-parasitized hosts


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