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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Climate acts as an environmental filter to plant pathogens

Caballol, Maria; Redondo, Miguel Angel; Catalan, Nuria; Corcobado, Tamara; Jung, Thomas; Marcais, Benoit; Milenkovic, Ivan; Nemesio-Gorriz, Miguel; Stenlid, Jan; Oliva, Jonas


Climate shapes the distribution of plant-associated microbes such as mycorrhizal and endophytic fungi. However, the role of climate in plant pathogen community assembly is less understood. Here, we explored the role of climate in the assembly of Phytophthora communities at >250 sites along a latitudinal gradient from Spain to northern Sweden and an altitudinal gradient from the Spanish Pyrenees to lowland areas. Communities were detected by ITS sequencing of river filtrates. Mediation analysis supported the role of climate in the biogeography of Phytophthora and ruled out other environmental factors such as geography or tree diversity. Comparisons of functional and species diversity showed that environmental filtering dominated over competitive exclusion in Europe. Temperature and precipitation acted as environmental filters at different extremes of the gradients. In northern regions, winter temperatures acted as an environmental filter on Phytophthora community assembly, selecting species adapted to survive low minimum temperatures. In southern latitudes, a hot dry climate was the main environmental filter, resulting in communities dominated by drought-tolerant Phytophthora species with thick oospore walls, a high optimum temperature for growth, and a high maximum temperature limit for growth. By taking a community ecology approach, we show that the establishment of Phytophthora plant pathogens in Europe is mainly restricted by cold temperatures.


climate change; competitive exclusion; drought; forest pathogen; functional diversity; functional traits; oomycete; Phytophthora; species distribution model; temperature

Published in

ISME Journal
2024, Volume: 18, number: 1, article number: wrae010