Comparing single- vs. mixed-genotype infections of Mycosphaerella graminicola on wheat: effects on pathogen virulence and host tolerance

Research paper by Stéphanie Schürch, Bitty A. Roy

Indexed on: 01 Jan '04Published on: 01 Jan '04Published in: Evolutionary Ecology


Mixed-genotype infections (infections of a host by more than one pathogen genotype) are common in plant-pathogen systems. However their impact on the course of the infection and especially on pathogen virulence and host response to infection is poorly understood. We investigated the effects of mixed-genotype infections on several parameters: host resistance and tolerance, as well as pathogen aggressiveness and virulence. For these purposes, we inoculated three wheat lines with three Mycosphaerella graminicola genotypes, alone or in mixtures, in a greenhouse experiment. For some of the mixtures, disease severity and virulence were lower than expected from infection by the same genotypes alone, suggesting that competition between genotypes was reducing their aggressiveness and virulence. One host line was fully resistant, but there were differences in resistance in the other lines. The two host lines that became infected differed slightly in tolerance, but mixed-genotype infections had no effect on host tolerance.