Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 449–460 | Cite as

Effect of systemic diseases on clonal integration: modelling approach

Original Paper


Systemic disease spread has been suggested as a possible disadvantage of clonal plant integration. As connected ramets have higher risk of being infected, disease should cause a selective pressure against clonality. Since experimental tests of this hypothesis are not easy to perform, we chose a modelling approach, by which we could easily separate different factors influencing the process. We used a spatially explicit model of clonal growth with disease spread implemented and we tested the hypothesis that systemic disease decreases the competitive ability of highly integrated clonal plants when compared to less integrated plants with the same parameters. In contrast to our expectations, the integrator was competitively stronger than the splitter in most cases and it lost only when the disease severity and infection rates were very high. We think that the larger the integrated network is, the better the plant utilises its translocation ability. Even a very small amount of resource sharing greatly increased the relative success of the integrator and larger integrators were competitively stronger than the smaller ones. Our results also indicate that although the same infection rate caused more systemic disease in the integrator than in the splitter population, the disease has only a limited potential to select for the splitter strategy. This is caused not only by the advantages of the clonal integration but also by the fact that there is only a small range of infection rates at which there is sufficient difference in disease impact between the strategies.


Clonal plants Disease spread Resource translocation Systemic pathogens Spatially explicit modelling 



We thank Grant Agency of The Czech Republic for financial support of this study through grants 206/03/H137 and LC06073.


  1. Alexander HM, Antonovics J (1988) Disease spread and population dynamics of anther-smut infection of Silene-alba caused by the fungus Ustilago-violacea. J Ecol 76(1):91–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alpert P (1996) Nutrient sharing in natural clonal fragments of Fragaria chiloensis. J Ecol 84(3):395–406CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brunt AA, Crabtree K, Dallwitz MJ, Gibbs AJ, Watson L, Zurcher EJ (eds) (1996 onwards) Plant viruses online: descriptions and lists from the VIDE database. Version: 20th August 1996. Available from: http://www.biology.anu.edu.au/Groups/MES/vide/ (accessed May 2007)
  4. Burdon JJ (1987) Diseases and plant population biology. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  5. Cheng NH, Su CL, Carter SA et al (2000) Vascular invasion routes and systemic accumulation patterns of tobacco mosaic virus in Nicotiana benthamiana. Plant J 23(3):349–362PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Clay K, Kover P (1996) Evolution and stasis in plant-pathogen associations. Ecology 77(4):997–1003CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Colling G, Matthies D (2004) The effects of plant population size on the interactions between the endangered plant Scorzonera humilis, a specialised herbivore, and a phytopathogenic fungus. Oikos 105(1):71–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cook RE (1985) Growth and development in clonal plant populations. In: Jackson JBC, Buss LW, Cook RE (eds) Population biology and evolution of clonal organisms. Yale University Press, New Haven, pp 259–296Google Scholar
  9. D’Hertefeldt T, van der Putten WH (1998) Physiological integration of the clonal plant Carex arenaria and its response to soil-borne pathogens. Oikos 81(2):229–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ericson L, Burdon JJ, Muller WJ (2002) The rust pathogen Triphragmium ulmariae as a selective force affecting its host, Filipendula ulmaria. J Ecol 90(1):167–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Eriksson O, Jerling L (1990) Hierarchical selection and risk spreading in clonal plants. In: van Groenedael JMV, de Kroon H (eds) Clonal growth in plants: regulation and function. SPB Academic Publishing, The Hague, pp 79–94Google Scholar
  12. Fischer M, van Kleunen M (2001) On the evolution of clonal plant life histories. Evol Ecol 15(4–6):565–582CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Frantzen J (1994) The role of clonal growth in the pathosystem Cirsium-arvense Puccinia-punctiformis. Can J Bot Rev Canadienne Bot 72(6):832–836Google Scholar
  14. Garcia-Guzman G, Burdon JJ (1997) Impact of the flower smut Ustilago cynodontis (Ustilaginaceae) on the performance of the clonal grass cynodon dactylon (Gramineae). Am J Bot 84(11):1565–1571CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gomez S, Stuefer JF (2006) Members only: induced systemic resistance to herbivory in a clonal plant network. Oecologia 147(3):461–468PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hara T, Herben T (1997) Shoot growth dynamics and size-dependent shoot fate of a clonal plant, Festuca rubra, in a mountain grassland. Res Popul Ecol 39(1):83–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Herben T (2004) Physiological integration affects growth form and competitive ability in clonal plants. Evol Ecol 18(5–6):493–520CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Herben T, Krahulec F, Hadincová V, Kovářová M, Skálová H (1993) Tiller demography of Festuca rubra in a mountain grassland: seasonal development, life span, and flowering. Preslia 65:341–353Google Scholar
  19. Herben T, Suzuki JI (2001) A simulation study of the effects of architectural constraints and resource translocation on population structure and competition in clonal plants. Evol Ecol 15(4–6):403–423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hutchings MJ, Wijesinghe DK (1997) Patchy habitats, division of labour and growth dividends in clonal plants. Trends Ecol Evol 12(10):390–394CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kelly CK (1995) Thoughts on clonal integration—facing the evolutionary context. Evol Ecol 9(6):575–585CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kemball WD, Marshall C (1995) Clonal integration between parent and branch stolons in white clover—a developmental study. New Phytol 129(3):513–521CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Klimeš L, Klimešová J, Hendriks RJJ et al (1997) Clonal plant architecture: a comparative analysis of form and function. In: De Kroon H, van Groenendael J (eds) The ecology and evolution of clonal plants. Blackhuys Publishers, Leiden, pp 1–30Google Scholar
  24. Kover PX, Clay K (1998) Trade-off between virulence and vertical transmission and the maintenance of a virulent plant pathogen. Am Nat 152(2):165–175CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Marshall C, Price EAC (1997) Sectoriality and its implications for physiological integration. In: De Kroon H, van Groenendael J (eds) The ecology and evolution of clonal plants. Blackhuys Publishers, Leiden, pp 79–108Google Scholar
  26. McCrea KD, Abrahamson WG (1985) Evolutionary impacts of the goldenrod ball gallmaker on Solidago-altissima clones. Oecologia 68(1):20–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mendgen K, Hahn M (2002) Plant infection and the establishment of fungal biotrophy. Trends Plant Sci 7(8):352–356PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Nus JL, Hodges CF (1990) Tiller and rhizome growth of water-stressed poa-pratensis merion infected by ustilago-striiformis or urocystis-agropyri. Plant Dis 74(11):886–888CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Oborny B, Kun A, Czaran T et al (2000) The effect of clonal integration on plant competition for mosaic habitat space. Ecology 81(12):3291–3304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pan JJ, Clay K (2002) Infection by the systemic fungus Epichloe glyceriae and clonal growth of its host grass Glyceria striata. Oikos 98(1):37–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Pan JJ, Clay K (2004) Epichloe glyceriae infection affects carbon translocation in the clonal grass Glyceria striata. New Phytol 164(3):467–475CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pecháčková S, During HJ, Rydlová V, Herben T (1999) Species-specific spatial pattern of below-ground plant parts in a montane grassland community. J Ecol 87(4):569–582CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Piqueras J (1999) Infection of Trientalis europaea by the systemic smut fungus Urocystis trientalis: disease incidence, transmission and effects on performance of host ramets. J Ecol 87(6):995–1004CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Piqueras J, Klimeš L (1998) Demography and modelling of clonal fragments in the pseudoannual plant Trientalis europaea L. Plant Ecol 136(2):213–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pitelka LF, Ashmun PL (1985) Physiology and integration of ramets in clonal plants. In: Jackson JBC, Buss LW, Cook RE (eds) Population biology and evolution of clonal organisms. Yale University Press, New Haven, pp 399–435Google Scholar
  36. Stuefer JF, de Kroon H, During HJ (1996) Exploitation of environmental heterogeneity by spatial division of labour in a clonal plant. Funct Ecol 10(3):328–334CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Stuefer JF, During HJ, de Kroon H (1994) High benefits of clonal integration in 2 stoloniferous species, in response to heterogeneous light environments. J Ecol 82(3):511–518CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Stuefer JF, Gomez S, van Mölken T (2004) Clonal integration beyond resource sharing: implications for defence signalling and disease transmission in clonal plant networks. Evol Ecol 18(5–6):647–667CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Suzuki JI, Herben T, Krahulec F, Hara T (1999) Size and spatial pattern of Festuca rubra genets in a mountain grassland: its relevance to genet establishment and dynamics. J Ecol 87(6):942–954CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. van Groenendael JMV, Klimeš L, Klimešová J et al (1996) Comparative ecology of clonal plants. Philos Trans Biol Sci 351(1345):1331–1339CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. van Kleunen M, Stuefer JF (1999) Quantifying the effects of reciprocal assimilate and water translocation in a clonal plant by the use of steam-girdling. Oikos 85(1):135–145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wennström A, Ericson L (1991) Variation in disease incidence in grazed and ungrazed sites for the system Pulsatilla-pratensis Puccinia-pulsatillae. Oikos 60(1):35–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wennström A, Ericson L (1992) Environmental heterogeneity and disease transmission within clones of Lactuca-sibirica. J Ecol 80(1):71–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Wennström A, Ericson L (1994) The effect of the systemic smut Urocystis-carcinodes on the long-lived herb Actaea-spicata. Oikos 71(1):111–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wildová R, Gough L, Herben T, Hershock Ch, Goldberg DE (2007) Architectural and growth traits differ in effects on performance of clonal plants: an analysis using a field-parameterized simulation model. Oikos 116(5):836–852CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Botany, Faculty of ScienceCharles UniversityPraha 2Czech Republic
  2. 2.Institute of BotanyAcademy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicPruhoniceCzech Republic

Personalised recommendations