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Importance of Autoinfection to the Epidemiology of Polycyclic Foliar Disease

October 2009 , Volume 99 , Number  10
Pages  1,116 - 1,120

Christopher C. Mundt

Department of Botany & Plant Pathology, 2082 Cordley Hall, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-2902.

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Accepted for publication 8 June 2009.

Autoinfection (infection resulting from inoculum produced on the same host unit) can result in strongly clustered disease at the local scale. In contrast, much epidemiological theory incorporates the simplification of spatially random or uniform infection. Earlier studies suggested only low to moderate levels of autoinfection, especially when the host unit is small. However, several studies published within the last 5 years suggest that autoinfection rates may be substantially higher than previously indicated. I discuss the potential importance of accounting for high autoinfection rates in example epidemiological processes that occur at different spatial scales: microbial interactions on the phylloplane, temporal disease progression in plant populations, and spatiotemporal disease spread at the landscape scale. Accounting for high autoinfection rates can have important qualitative and quantitative consequences for epidemiological processes, and further studies of autoinfection will contribute significantly to our understanding of epidemics.

Additional keywords:dispersal, growth models, spatiotemporal spread.

© 2009 The American Phytopathological Society