Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Disease in invasive plant populations.

Abstract

Non-native invasive plants can establish in natural areas, where they can be ecologically damaging and costly to manage. Like cultivated plants, invasive plants can experience a relatively disease-free period upon introduction and accumulate pathogens over time. Diseases of invasive plant populations are infrequently studied compared to diseases of agriculture, forestry, and even native plant populations. We evaluated similarities and differences in the processes that are likely to affect pathogen accumulation and disease in invasive plants compared to cultivated plants, which are the dominant focus of the field of plant pathology. Invasive plants experience more genetic, biotic, and abiotic variation across space and over time than cultivated plants, which is expected to stabilize the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of interactions with pathogens and possibly weaken the efficacy of infectious disease in their control. Although disease is expected to be context dependent, the widespread distribution of invasive plants makes them important pathogen reservoirs. Research on invasive plant diseases can both protect crops and help manage invasive plant populations.