Phylogenetic determinants of potential host shifts in fungal pathogens

J Evol Biol. 2009 Dec;22(12):2532-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2009.01878.x. Epub 2009 Oct 29.


Understanding what determines the host range of pathogens and the potential for host shifts is of critical importance to controlling their introductions into new environments. The phylogeny of the hosts has been shown to be important: pathogens are more likely to be infectious on hosts closely related to their host-of-origin because of the similar host environments that is shared by descent. The importance of pathogen phylogenies for predicting host range has never been investigated, although a pathogen should also be able to exploit a new host that its close relative can infect. We performed cross-inoculations using a plant-fungal association and showed that both host and pathogen phylogenies were significant predictors of host range, with at least partly independent effects. Furthermore, we showed that some pathogens were better at infecting novel hosts. Our results should have implications in the context of biological invasions and emergences of new diseases due to globalization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Basidiomycota / genetics*
  • Basidiomycota / physiology*
  • Flowers / microbiology
  • Flowers / physiology
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genotype
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology*
  • Plants / microbiology*
  • Species Specificity