Garlic mustard is an invasive Eurasian biennial that has spread throughout the eastern United States and southern Canada. Populations of this plant vary in their susceptibility to Erysiphe cruciferarum, a causal agent of powdery mildew disease in Brassicaceous plants. We examined whether there were biogeographic patterns in the distribution of resistance in invasive North American and native European populations of this plant. We grew plants from 78 invasive and 20 native populations and screened them for powdery mildew resistance in the greenhouse. We found that populations were mostly monomorphic for either resistance or susceptibility but that some polymorphic populations were found from both continents. The proportion of populations showing resistance versus susceptibility was similar in both Europe and North America. Within continents, the spatial distribution of resistant and susceptible populations did not deviate significantly from random. We also examined whether the possession of the resistance trait alter intraspecific competitive dynamics. In two trials, we competed plants from resistant and susceptible populations in a target-neighbor design in the presence and absence of powdery mildew inoculum and examined the growth of the target plant. Target plants from resistant populations were overall larger than target plants from susceptible populations. Target plants were overall larger when grown in competition with susceptible neighbors. Further, resistant target plants showed a greater degree of release from competition when grown with a susceptible neighbor versus a resistant neighbor than the degree of release shown by susceptible target plants. This suggests a benefit of possessing the resistance trait with little apparent costs which should promote selection for this trait within plant populations.
& Bahn, V.
(2020). Biogeographic Variation in Resistance of the Invasive Plant, Alliaria Petiolata, to a Powdery Mildew Fungus and Effect of Resistance on Competitive Dynamics. Biological Invasions.