Genotype and spatial structure shape pathogen dispersal and disease dynamics at small spatial scales

Ayco J.M. Tack (Corresponding Author), Jani Hakala, Tuukka Petäjä, Markku Kulmala, Anna Liisa Laine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Many devastating pathogens are passively dispersed, and their epidemics are characterized by variation that is typically attributed to environmental factors. Here, by combining laboratory inoculations with wind tunnel and field trials using the wind-dispersed pathogen Podosphaera plantaginis, we demonstrated striking genetic variation affecting the unexplored microscale (<2 m) of epidemics. Recipient and source host genotypes, as well as pathogen strain, explained a large fraction of variation in the three key dispersal phases: departure, movement, and settlement. Moreover, we found genotypic variation affecting group size of the pathogen dispersal unit, ultimately resulting in increased disease development on hosts close to the infection source. Together, our results show that genotypic variation may generate considerable variation in the rate of disease spread through space and time with disease hotspots emerging around initial foci. Furthermore, the extent of genetic variation affecting the entire dispersal process confirms that these traits may be targeted by selection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703-714
Number of pages12
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Bioaerosol
  • Disease dynamics
  • Dispersal
  • Epidemiology
  • Genotype by genotype interactions
  • Host-parasite interactions
  • Super-shedder
  • Superspreader
  • Transmission
  • Transport


Dive into the research topics of 'Genotype and spatial structure shape pathogen dispersal and disease dynamics at small spatial scales'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this