We consider the state of knowledge on pathogen evolution of novel virulence activities, broadly defined as anything that increases pathogen fitness with the consequence of causing disease in either the qualitative or quantitative senses, including adaptation of pathogens to host immunity and physiology, host species, genotypes, or tissues, or the environment. The evolution of novel virulence activities as an adaptive trait is based on the selection exerted by hosts on variants that have been generated de novo or arrived from elsewhere. In addition, the biotic and abiotic environment a pathogen experiences beyond the host may influence pathogen virulence activities. We consider host-pathogen evolution, host range expansion, and external factors that can mediate pathogen evolution. We then discuss the mechanisms by which pathogens generate and recombine the genetic variation that leads to novel virulence activities, including DNA point mutation, transposable element activity, gene duplication and neofunctionalization, and genetic exchange. In summary, if there is an (epi)genetic mechanism that can create variation in the genome, it will be used by pathogens to evolve virulence factors. Our knowledge of virulence evolution has been biased by pathogen evolution in response to major gene resistance, leaving other virulence activities underexplored. Understanding the key driving forces that give rise to novel virulence activities and the integration of evolutionary concepts and methods with mechanistic research on plant-microbe interactions can help inform crop protection.
By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: The Crop Science Centre, Lawrence Weaver Rd, Cambridge, CB3 0LE, GB. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact.