, Volume 90, Issue 4, pp 509–517 | Cite as

Epidemiology of anther-smut disease (Microbotryum violaceum) and numeric regulation of populations ofSilene dioica

  • Ulla Carlsson
  • Thomas Elmqvist
Original Papers


The interaction between the anther smutMicrobotryum violaceum and its hostSilene dioica was studied during 1985–1990 in 47 populations of different ages, sizes and densities, in an archipelago area in northern Sweden. The sizes of these populations had also been surveyed in the early 1970s. Our results indicate that establishment ofMicrobotryum violaceum is host-size and density dependent. Firstly, young populations ofSilene dioica that became diseased during the study were larger and tended to be more dense than young populations that remained healthy. Secondly, populations diseased in both 1985 and 1990 were found to be larger and tended to be more dense than populations healthy in both years. We were able to document that the pathogen actually failed to establish in two small young populations (diseased plants died shortly after they appeared) and did go extinct in one small old population. Disease incidences within populations did not show large fluctuations between years. The highest increases in disease incidence during the study were found in three relatively young populations that were disease-free at the start of the study. Older populations highly diseased at the start showed less of an increase. Our study indicates thatMicrobotryum violaceum acts as a regulatory factor influencing the rate of increase inSilene dioica populations, once they are sufficiently large to maintain the pathogen. Firstly, seedling density decreased with increased incidence of disease and a seed addition experiment indicated seed-limited recuritment in highly diseased populations. Secondly, those populations that reached very large sizes or densities were either healthy or had very low incidences, indicating the potential for populations that for one reason or another escape an epidemic. However, in the comparison of changes in population size over 16–18 years there was no simple correlation between expansion rate and disease incidence.

Key words

Host/pathogen interaction Disease establishment Host population regulation Silene dioica Microbotryum violaceum (syn.Ustilago violacea


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ulla Carlsson
    • 1
  • Thomas Elmqvist
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecological BotanyUniversity of UmeåUmeåSweden

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