Do Fragmented Forests Open the Door to Diseases?
The results of a 12-year field study suggest that highly connected plant populations are more resistant to fungal pathogens than isolated populations. This finding seems counterintuitive, since conventional wisdom argues that closely clustered populations would make pathogen colonization easier rather than harder. But, after spending more than a decade watching 4,000 different populations of the weed, Plantago lanceolata, battle the fungal pathogen, powdery mildew, on the Åland Islands in the Baltic Sea, the researchers conclude that highly connected patches of plants exchange more genes — and consequently, more resistance — than their isolated counterparts.
Read more about this research from the 13 June issue of Science here.
[Image courtesy of Susanna Kekkonen. Please click here for more information.]
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