Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Virulence and community dynamics of fungal species with vertical and horizontal transmission on a plant with multiple infections.

Abstract

The virulence evolution of multiple infections of parasites from the same species has been modeled widely in evolution theory. However, experimental studies on this topic remain scarce, particularly regarding multiple infections by different parasite species. Here, we characterized the virulence and community dynamics of fungal pathogens on the invasive plant Ageratina adenophora to verify the predictions made by the model. We observed that A. adenophora was highly susceptible to diverse foliar pathogens with mixed vertical and horizontal transmission within leaf spots. The transmission mode mainly determined the pathogen community structure at the leaf spot level. Over time, the pathogen community within a leaf spot showed decreased Shannon diversity; moreover, the vertically transmitted pathogens exhibited decreased virulence to the host A. adenophora, but the horizontally transmitted pathogens exhibited increased virulence to the host. Our results demonstrate that the predictions of classical models for the virulence evolution of multiple infections are still valid in a complex realistic environment and highlight the impact of transmission mode on disease epidemics of foliar fungal pathogens. We also propose that seedborne fungi play an important role in structuring the foliar pathogen community from multiple infections within a leaf spot.