Honour C. McCan: Emergence and Evolution of Plant Infectious Disease
11:15 - 12:15
Honour C. McCann
New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study, Massey University, NZ.
Disease emergence is a growing threat to agricultural productivity worldwide, yet plant pathology is primarily focused on populations sampled from cultivated crops. Epidemiological and evolutionary investigations of crop disease emergence are generally hindered by the absence of sufficient knowledge of the identity and distribution of wild hosts and difficulty identifying pathogen symptom production in the wild. There is increasing evidence demonstrating the importance of environmental reservoirs in contributing to disease emergence however. Many human infectious disease outbreaks have environmental or zoonotic origins, and recent studies of fungal plant pathogen emergence have revealed important links with wild populations. Such studies of bacterial plant pathogens are rare. The emergence of Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae (Psa) over the last three decades - concomitant with the domestication of its kiwifruit (Actinidia spp.) host - offers a unique opportunity to understand the relationship between wild and cultivated populations of both plants and microbes and the ecological and evolutionary factors shaping plant immunity and driving the origins of disease. I will present recent work investigating Psa’s wild origins in East Asia and evolution in agricultural environments