Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

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

Authors' information

Wu, E-Jiao
Jiangsu Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Wang, Yan-Ping
Chengdu Normal University
Yang, Li-Na
Minjiang University
Zhao, Mi-Zhen
Jiangsu Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Mycology and Plant Pathology

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG13 Climate action
SDG2 Zero hunger

UKÄ Subject classification

Agricultural Science
Climate Research

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)