, Volume 102, Issue 4, pp 490-493

Frequency-dependent selection in a wild plant-pathogen system

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This study investigated the occurrence of the rust fungus Puccinia chondrillina in clonal populations of its host plant, Chondrilla juncea. In 16 populations spread across eastern Turkey, 48 different multilocus isozyme phenotypes were identified in the host. Of these clones, 88% were restricted to single localities, while the remaining 12% were found in 2–11 populations. For 13 of the 16 plant populations the commonest host clone was always infected. Indeed, at ten sites this clone was the only one found to carry disease. In the remaining three populations the rusted plants were all of the second commonest isozyme type. The possibility of such a tight association of rust incidence with host clone frequency simultaneously across a wide geographic area is very low (P≦0.023), supporting the contention that the pathogen P. chondrillina may be imposing negative frequency-dependent selection on these C. juncea populations.