The Role of Pathogens in Plant Invasions


Plant-pathogen interactions occur throughout the process of plant invasion - pathogens can acutely influence plant survival and reproduction, while the large densities and spatial distributions of invasive plant species can influence pathogen communities. However, interactions between invasive plants and pathogens are often overlooked during the early stages of invasion. As with introductions of invasive plants, the introduction of agricultural crops to new areas can also generate novel host-pathogen interactions. The close monitoring of agricultural plants and resulting insights can inform hypotheses for invasive plants where research on pathogen interactions is lacking. This chapter reviews the known and hypothesized effects of pathogens on the invasion process and the effects of plant invasion on pathogens and infectious disease dynamics throughout the process of invasion. Initially, pathogens may inhibit the transport of potentially invasive plants. After arrival in a new range, pathogens can facilitate or inhibit establishment success of introduced plants depending on their relative impacts on the introduced plants and resident species. As invasive plants spread, they may encounter novel pathogens and alter the abundance and geographic range of pathogens. Pathogens can mediate interactions between invasive plants and resident species and may influence the long-term impacts of invasive plants on ecosystems. As invasive plants shift the composition of pathogen communities, resident species could be subject to higher disease risk. We highlight gaps in invasion biology research by providing examples from the agricultural literature and propose topics that have received little attention from either field.

Plant Invasions - The Role of Biotic Interactions
Amy E. Kendig
Amy E. Kendig
Postdoctoral Researcher

ecologist and data scientist specializing in human impacts in plant communities