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Parasite. 2008 Sep;15(3):449-54.

Population genetics of fungal diseases of plants.

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Université Paris-Sud, Laboratoire Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution, UMR8079; CNRS, UMR 8079, F-91405 Orsay cedex, France.


Although parasitism is one of the most common lifestyles among eukaryotes, population genetics on parasites lag for behind those on free-living organisms. Yet, the advent of molecular markers offers great tools for studying important processes, such as dispersal, mating systems, adaptation to host and speciation. Here we highlight some studies that used molecular markers to address questions about the population genetics of fungal (including oomycetes) plant pathogens. We conclude that population genetics approaches have provided tremendous insights into the biology of a few fungal parasites and warrant more wide use in phytopathology. However, theoretical advances are badly needed to best apply the existing methods. Fungi are of prime interest not only because they are major parasites of plants and animals, but they also constitute tractable and highly useful models for understanding evolutionary processes. We hope that the emerging field of fungal evolution will attract more evolutionary biologists in the near future.

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