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Annu Rev Phytopathol. 1995;33:145-72.

The secret life of foliar bacterial pathogens on leaves.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, 108 Hilgard Hall, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720-31.


This review focuses on the role of two distinct fitness strategies in the growth, survival, and epidemiology of foliar bacterial pathogens. A tolerance strategy requires the ability to tolerate direct exposure to environmental stresses on leaf surfaces, including UV radiation and low water availability. An avoidance strategy requires the ability to seek and/or exploit sites that are protected from these stresses, including endophytic sites. The ability to employ an avoidance strategy and grow endophytically may directly influence the potential for pathogenesis, since endophytic populations, not epiphytic populations, are likely responsible for disease induction. Furthermore, exchange between these two populations is probably crucial to the epidemiology of foliar pathogens. While foliar pathogens can grow and survive in both exposed and internal sites, indicating that they can employ both fitness strategies, the poor internal growth of most saprophytes suggests that saprophytes depend primarily on a strategy of tolerance. This difference between pathogens and saprophytes has important implications for predicting the population dynamics of leaf-associated bacterial species and for selecting effective biological control agents.


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