Aerial Dispersal of Pathogens on the Global and Continental Scales and Its Impact on Plant Disease

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Science  26 Jul 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5581, pp. 537-541
DOI: 10.1126/science.1072678

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Some of the most striking and extreme consequences of rapid, long-distance aerial dispersal involve pathogens of crop plants. Long-distance dispersal of fungal spores by the wind can spread plant diseases across and even between continents and reestablish diseases in areas where host plants are seasonally absent. For such epidemics to occur, hosts that are susceptible to the same pathogen genotypes must be grown over wide areas, as is the case with many modern crops. The strongly stochastic nature of long-distance dispersal causes founder effects in pathogen populations, such that the genotypes that cause epidemics in new territories or on cultivars with previously effective resistance genes may be atypical. Similar but less extreme population dynamics may arise from long-distance aerial dispersal of other organisms, including plants, viruses, and fungal pathogens of humans.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: james.brown{at} (J.K.M.B.) and mogens.hovmoller{at} (M.S.H.)

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