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The population dynamical consequences of density-dependence in fungal plant pathogens

Shaw, M.W. (2008) The population dynamical consequences of density-dependence in fungal plant pathogens. In: Peberdy, J. (ed.) Stress in yeast and filamentous fungi. British Mycological Society Symposia Series, 27. Kluwer, pp. 53-66. ISBN 9780123741844

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/S0275-0287(08)80046-X


Almost all stages of a plant pathogen life cycle are potentially density dependent. At small scales and short time spans appropriate to a single-pathogen individual, density dependence can be extremely strong, mediated both by simple resource use, changes in the host due to defence reactions and signals between fungal individuals. In most cases, the consequences are a rise in reproductive rate as the pathogen becomes rarer, and consequently stabilisation of the population dynamics; however, at very low density reproduction may become inefficient, either because it is co-operative or because heterothallic fungi do not form sexual spores. The consequence will be historically determined distributions. On a medium scale, appropriate for example to several generations of a host plant, the factors already mentioned remain important but specialist natural enemies may also start to affect the dynamics detectably. This could in theory lead to complex (e.g. chaotic) dynamics, but in practice heterogeneity of habitat and host is likely to smooth the extreme relationships and make for more stable, though still very variable, dynamics. On longer temporal and longer spatial scales evolutionary responses by both host and pathogen are likely to become important, producing patterns which ultimately depend on the strength of interactions at smaller scales.

Item Type:Book or Report Section
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Food Security
Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences
ID Code:9886

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