PATHOGEN LIFE-HISTORY TRADE-OFFS REVEALED IN ALLOPATRY

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Abstract

Trade-offs in life-history traits is a central tenet in evolutionary biology, yet their ubiquity and relevance to realized fitness in natural populations remains questioned. Trade-offs in pathogens are of particular interest because they may constrain the evolution and epidemiology of diseases. Here, we studied life-history traits determining transmission in the obligate fungal pathogen, Podosphaera plantaginis, infecting Plantago lanceolata. We find that although traits are positively associated on sympatric host genotypes, on allopatric host genotypes relationships between infectivity and subsequent transmission traits change shape, becoming even negative. The epidemiological prediction of this change in life-history relationships in allopatry is lower disease prevalence in newly established pathogen populations. An analysis of the natural pathogen metapopulation confirms that disease prevalence is lower in newly established pathogen populations and they are more prone to go extinct during winter than older pathogen populations. Hence, life-history trade-offs mediated by pathogen local adaptation may influence epidemiological dynamics at both population and metapopulation levels.

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