Geographic and genetic variation in susceptibility of Butomus umbellatus to foliar fungal pathogens

Nathan Harms, The United States Army Corps of Engineers
Judy Shearer, The United States Army Corps of Engineers
James T. Cronin, Louisiana State University
John F. Gaskin, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Washington DC


© 2019, This is a U.S. government work and not under copyright protection in the U.S.; foreign copyright protection may apply. Large-scale patterns of plant invasions may reflect regional heterogeneity in biotic and abiotic factors and genetic variation within and between invading populations. Having information on how effects of biotic resistance vary spatially can be especially important when implementing biological control because introduced agents may have different impacts through interactions with host-plant genotype, local environment, or other novel enemies. We conducted a series of field surveys and laboratory studies to determine whether there was evidence of biotic resistance, as foliar fungal pathogens, in two introduced genotypes (triploid G1, diploid G4) of the Eurasian wetland weed, Butomus umbellatus L. in the USA. We tested whether genotypes differed in disease attack and whether spatial patterns in disease incidence were related to geographic location or climate for either genotype. We surveyed 27 B. umbellatus populations (17 G1, 10 G4) to determine disease incidence and associated fungal pathogens. For a subset of plant populations, we isolated foliar fungi and tested pathogenicity of three isolates in laboratory assays. After accounting for location (latitude, climate), G1 plants had lower disease incidence than G4 plants in the field (38% vs. 70%) but similar pathogen richness. In contrast, bioassays revealed G1 plants consistently received a higher damage score and had larger leaf lesions regardless of pathogen. The seemingly contradictory results between the field and laboratory may be due to climatic differences between areas that limit the regional pool of pathogens or their effect on plant genotype. These results demonstrate that two widespread B. umbellatus genotypes exhibit different susceptibility to pathogens and effectiveness of pathogen biological controls may depend on local conditions.