Variable opportunities for outcrossing result in hotspots of novel genetic variation in a pathogen metapopulation

Anna-Liisa Laine*, Benoit Barres, Elina Numminen, Jukka P. Siren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Many pathogens possess the capacity for sex through outcrossing, despite being able to reproduce also asexually and/or via selfing. Given that sex is assumed to come at a cost, these mixed reproductive strategies typical of pathogens have remained puzzling. While the ecological and evolutionary benefits of outcrossing are theoretically well-supported, support for such benefits in pathogen populations are still scarce. Here, we analyze the epidemiology and genetic structure of natural populations of an obligate fungal pathogen, Podosphaera plantaginis. We find that the opportunities for outcrossing vary spatially. Populations supporting high levels of coinfection -a prerequisite of sex - result in hotspots of novel genetic diversity. Pathogen populations supporting coinfection also have a higher probability of surviving winter. Jointly our results show that outcrossing has direct epidemiological consequences as well as a major impact on pathogen population genetic diversity, thereby providing evidence of ecological and evolutionary benefits of outcrossing in pathogens.

Original languageEnglish
Article number47091
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalELIFE
Volume8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • APPROXIMATE BAYESIAN COMPUTATION
  • RED-QUEEN
  • SEX
  • EVOLUTIONARY
  • POPULATION
  • RECOMBINATION
  • MAINTENANCE
  • RESISTANCE
  • COINFECTION
  • DIVERSITY

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