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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Elevating Air Temperature May Enhance Future Epidemic Risk of the Plant Pathogen Phytophthora infestans

Wu, E-Jiao; Wang, Yan-Ping; Yang, Li-Na; Zhao, Mi-Zhen; Zhan, Jiasui


Knowledge of pathogen adaptation to global warming is important for predicting future disease epidemics and food production in agricultural ecosystems; however, the patterns and mechanisms of such adaptation in many plant pathogens are poorly understood. Here, population genetics combined with physiological assays and common garden experiments were used to analyze the genetics, physiology, and thermal preference of pathogen aggressiveness in an evolutionary context using 140 Phytophthora infestans genotypes under five temperature regimes. Pathogens originating from warmer regions were more thermophilic and had a broader thermal niche than those from cooler regions. Phenotypic plasticity contributed -10-fold more than heritability measured by genetic variance. Further, experimental temperatures altered the expression of genetic variation and the association of pathogen aggressiveness with the local temperature. Increasing experimental temperature enhanced the variation in aggressiveness. At low experimental temperatures, pathogens from warmer places produced less disease than those from cooler places; however, this pattern was reversed at higher experimental temperatures. These results suggest that geographic variation in the thermal preferences of pathogens should be included in modeling future disease epidemics in agricultural ecosystems in response to global warming, and greater attention should be paid to preventing the movement of pathogens from warmer to cooler places.


natural selection; AUDPC; ecological sustainability; thermal adaptation; plant disease; pathogen evolution; counter-gradient variation

Published in

Journal of Fungi
2022, Volume: 8, number: 8, article number: 808
Publisher: MDPI

    Associated SLU-program

    SLU Plant Protection Network

    Sustainable Development Goals

    Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
    End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Agricultural Science
    Climate Research

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)