• genetic correlation;
  • latent period;
  • leaf rust;
  • sporulation capacity;
  • Triticum aestivum ;
  • Wheat


Crop pathogens are notorious for their rapid adaptation to their host. We still know little about the evolution of their life cycles and whether there might be trade-offs between fitness components, limiting the evolutionary potential of these pathogens. In this study, we explored a trade-off between spore production capacity and latent period in Puccinia triticina, a fungal pathogen causing leaf rust on wheat. Using a simple multivariate (manova) technique, we showed that the covariance between the two traits is under shared control of host and pathogen, with contributions from host genotype (57%), pathogen genotype (18.4%) and genotype × genotype interactions (12.5%). We also found variation in sign and strength of genetic correlations for the pathogen, when measured on different host varieties. Our results suggest that these important pathogen life-history traits do not freely respond to directional selection and that precise evolutionary trajectories are contingent on the genetic identity of the interacting host and pathogen.