Pathogen regulation of plant diversity via effective specialization

Trends Ecol Evol. 2013 Dec;28(12):705-11. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2013.09.005. Epub 2013 Sep 30.


The Janzen-Connell (JC) hypothesis, one of the most influential hypotheses explaining forest diversity, is inconsistent with evidence that tree species share the same natural enemies. Through the discussion of seedling diseases from a pathogen-centered perspective, we expand the JC hypothesis to tie in host-pathogen-environment interactions at three levels: local adaptation, host specificity of the combined effect of multiple infections, and environmental modulation of disease. We present evidence from plant pathology, disease ecology, and host-parasite evolution relevant to (but not commonly associated with) forest species diversity maintenance. This expanded view of the JC hypothesis suggests ways to direct new experiments to integrate research on pathogen local adaptation, co-infection, and environmental effects on infection by using high-throughput molecular techniques and statistical models.

Keywords: Janzen–Connell; co-infection; effective specialization; environmental modulation; local adaptation; multihost pathogens.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological*
  • Biodiversity*
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Host Specificity*
  • Trees / microbiology*