Spatially structured eco-evolutionary dynamics in a host-pathogen interaction render isolated populations vulnerable to disease

Layla Höckerstedt, Elina Numminen, Ben Ashby, Mike Boots, Anna Norberg, Anna-Liisa Laine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

While the negative effects that pathogens have on their hosts are well-documented in humans and agricultural systems, direct evidence of pathogen-driven impacts in wild host populations is scarce and mixed. Here, to determine how the strength of pathogen-imposed selection depends on spatial structure, we analyze growth rates across approximately 4000 host populations of a perennial plant through time coupled with data on pathogen presence-absence. We find that infection decreases growth more in the isolated than well-connected host populations. Our inoculation study reveals isolated populations to be highly susceptible to disease while connected host populations support the highest levels of resistance diversity, regardless of their disease history. A spatial eco-evolutionary model predicts that non-linearity in the costs to resistance may be critical in determining this pattern. Overall, evolutionary feedbacks define the ecological impacts of disease in spatially structured systems with host gene flow being more important than disease history in determining the outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6018
JournalNature Communications
Volume13
Issue number1
Early online date13 Oct 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Oct 2022

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