The effect of competition on the control of invading plant pathogens.

Published online
15 Dec 2020
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Sharp, R. T. & Shaw, M. W. & Bosch, F. van den
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New invading pathogen strains must compete with endemic pathogen strains to emerge and spread. As disease control measures are often non-specific, that is, they do not distinguish between strains, applying control not only affects the invading pathogen strain but the endemic as well. We hypothesize that the control of the invasive strain could be compromised due to the non-specific nature of the control. A spatially explicit model, describing the East African cassava mosaic virus-Uganda strain (EACMV-UG) outbreak, is used to evaluate methods of controlling both disease incidence and spread of invading pathogen strains in pathosystems with and without an endemic pathogen strain present. We find that while many newly introduced or intensified control measures (such as resistant cultivars or roguing) decrease the expected incidence, they have the unintended consequence of increasing, or at least not reducing, the speed with which the invasive pathogen spreads geographically. We identify the controls that cause this effect and methods in which these controls may be applied to prevent it. We found that the spatial spread of the invading strain is chiefly governed by the incidence at the wave front. Control can therefore be applied, or intensified, once the wave front has passed without increasing the pathogen's rate of spread. When trade of planting material occurs, it is possible that the planting material is already infected. The only forms of control in this study that reduces the speed of geographic spread, regardless of the presence of an endemic strain, are those that reduce the amount of trade and the distance over which trade takes place. Synthesis and applications. The best control strategy depends on the presence of competing endemic strains. Applying or intensifying the control can slow the rate of spread when absent but increase it if present. Imposing trade restrictions before the epidemic has reached a given area and intensifying other control methods only when the wave front has passed is the most effective way of both slowing down spread and controlling incidence when a competing endemic strain is present and is the safest approach when its presence is unknown.

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