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    Generalist pathogens can exhibit differential success on different hosts, resulting in complex host range patterns. Several factors operate to reduce realized host range relative to potential host range, particularly under field conditions. We explored factors influencing host range of the naturally occurring generalist ascomycete grass seed pathogen Pyrenophora semeniperda. We measured potential host range in laboratory experiments at high inoculumloadswith 26 grass species, including the primary host Bromus tectorum, and developed models to predict susceptibility and tolerance based on host traits, including germination speed, seed hardness, seed size, and phylogenetic relations. We also examined pathogen and host density effects on infection and mortality. All species tested were at least somewhat susceptible to the pathogen at high inoculum loads, but both infection and mortality varied widely. Species more closely related to the original host (B. tectorum) were more susceptible to infection, whereas species with slower germination were less tolerant and therefore more likely to suffer mortality. Infection and mortality were sharply reduced as inoculum load was reduced. Intermediate loads had major negative impacts on dormant B. tectorum seeds but generally minimal effects on native species. In addition, field seed bank studies determined that P. semeniperda rarely exploits native grass species as hosts. This marked reduction in realized host range relative to potential host range indicates that laboratory host range studies are potentially a poor predictor of either the current or possible future realized host range for wildland plant pathogens.

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    Beckstead, Julie; Meyer, Susan E.; Reinhart, Kurt O.; Bergen, Kellene M.; Holden, Sandra R.; Boekweg, Heather F. 2014. Factors affecting host range in a generalist seed pathogen of semi-arid shrublands. Plant Ecology. 215: 427-440.


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    Drechslera campanulata, germination rate, pathogen resistance, pathogen tolerance, phylogenetic distance, plant-microbe interactions

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