Soil structure and soil-borne diseases: using epidemiological concepts to scale from fungal spread to plant epidemics

Wilfred Otten, Christopher A. Gilligan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Many epidemics of root diseases involving soil fungi depend on the interplay between fungal growth and the spatial and temporal heterogeneity of the soil environment. Colonization or infection of a root occurs at fine scales with growth and movement of fungal mycelia through soil. However, epidemics are observed at coarser scales, and depend on a cascading spread through populations of roots. We briefly review conventional analyses of soil-borne epidemics and argue that these treat soil physical conditions at scales too coarse to be meaningful for interactions between soil, plants and fungi, and fail to consider the effect of soil physical conditions on the underlying epidemiological processes. Instead, we propose a conceptual epidemiological framework that integrates spatial scales and use this to review the effect of soil structure on the dynamics of soil-borne pathogenic fungi. Using the soil-borne fungal plant pathogen Rhizoctonia solani as an example, we demonstrate that invasion of fungi into host populations is critically affected by environmental conditions operating at each of two scales: (i) at the microscopic scale (μm − cm) the fungus preferentially explores certain pathways in soil, and small changes in soil physical conditions make the fungus switch from small, dense colonies to large, sparse and rapidly expanding ones; (ii) at the larger scale (cm − dm) a critical density of susceptible hosts is required, in excess of which fungi switch from non-invasive to invasive spread. Finally, we suggest that the approach will increase the applicability of research dealing with microscopic soil–plant–microbe interactions towards the solution of large-scale epidemiological problems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-37
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Soil Science
Volume57
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2006

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soil
fungi
fungus
soil physical properties
soil structure
soil-borne diseases
root diseases
soil fungi
edaphic factors
Thanatephorus cucumeris
plant pathogens
mycelium
microbial growth
microorganisms
environmental factors
infection
soilborne disease
plant and fungus
colonization
pathogen

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Otten, Wilfred; Gilligan, Christopher A. / Soil structure and soil-borne diseases: using epidemiological concepts to scale from fungal spread to plant epidemics.

In: European Journal of Soil Science, Vol. 57, No. 1, 02.2006, p. 26-37.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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abstract = "Many epidemics of root diseases involving soil fungi depend on the interplay between fungal growth and the spatial and temporal heterogeneity of the soil environment. Colonization or infection of a root occurs at fine scales with growth and movement of fungal mycelia through soil. However, epidemics are observed at coarser scales, and depend on a cascading spread through populations of roots. We briefly review conventional analyses of soil-borne epidemics and argue that these treat soil physical conditions at scales too coarse to be meaningful for interactions between soil, plants and fungi, and fail to consider the effect of soil physical conditions on the underlying epidemiological processes. Instead, we propose a conceptual epidemiological framework that integrates spatial scales and use this to review the effect of soil structure on the dynamics of soil-borne pathogenic fungi. Using the soil-borne fungal plant pathogen Rhizoctonia solani as an example, we demonstrate that invasion of fungi into host populations is critically affected by environmental conditions operating at each of two scales: (i) at the microscopic scale (μm − cm) the fungus preferentially explores certain pathways in soil, and small changes in soil physical conditions make the fungus switch from small, dense colonies to large, sparse and rapidly expanding ones; (ii) at the larger scale (cm − dm) a critical density of susceptible hosts is required, in excess of which fungi switch from non-invasive to invasive spread. Finally, we suggest that the approach will increase the applicability of research dealing with microscopic soil–plant–microbe interactions towards the solution of large-scale epidemiological problems.",
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Soil structure and soil-borne diseases: using epidemiological concepts to scale from fungal spread to plant epidemics. / Otten, Wilfred; Gilligan, Christopher A.

In: European Journal of Soil Science, Vol. 57, No. 1, 02.2006, p. 26-37.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AB - Many epidemics of root diseases involving soil fungi depend on the interplay between fungal growth and the spatial and temporal heterogeneity of the soil environment. Colonization or infection of a root occurs at fine scales with growth and movement of fungal mycelia through soil. However, epidemics are observed at coarser scales, and depend on a cascading spread through populations of roots. We briefly review conventional analyses of soil-borne epidemics and argue that these treat soil physical conditions at scales too coarse to be meaningful for interactions between soil, plants and fungi, and fail to consider the effect of soil physical conditions on the underlying epidemiological processes. Instead, we propose a conceptual epidemiological framework that integrates spatial scales and use this to review the effect of soil structure on the dynamics of soil-borne pathogenic fungi. Using the soil-borne fungal plant pathogen Rhizoctonia solani as an example, we demonstrate that invasion of fungi into host populations is critically affected by environmental conditions operating at each of two scales: (i) at the microscopic scale (μm − cm) the fungus preferentially explores certain pathways in soil, and small changes in soil physical conditions make the fungus switch from small, dense colonies to large, sparse and rapidly expanding ones; (ii) at the larger scale (cm − dm) a critical density of susceptible hosts is required, in excess of which fungi switch from non-invasive to invasive spread. Finally, we suggest that the approach will increase the applicability of research dealing with microscopic soil–plant–microbe interactions towards the solution of large-scale epidemiological problems.

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