Tracing the role of human civilization in the globalization of plant pathogens

Alberto Santini, Andrew Liebhold, Duccio Migliorini, Steve Woodward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Co-evolution between plants and parasites, including herbivores and pathogens, has arguably generated much of Earth’s biological diversity. Within an ecosystem, co-evolution of plants and pathogens is a stepwise reciprocal evolutionary interaction: epidemics result in intense selection pressures on both host and pathogen populations, ultimately allowing long-term persistence and ecosystem stability. Historically, plants, and pathogens evolved in unique regional assemblages, largely isolated from other assemblages by geographical barriers. When barriers are broken, non-indigenous pathogenic organisms are introduced into new environments, potentially finding suitable hosts lacking resistance genes and environments favouring pathogenic behavior; this process may result in epidemics of newly emerging diseases. Biological invasions are tightly linked to human activities and have been a constant feature throughout human history.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-652
Number of pages6
JournalThe ISME Journal
Early online date12 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

We apologize to all those colleagues whose work was not cited because of space restrictions.


  • human migrations
  • alien invasive pathogens
  • plant trade
  • plant for planting
  • plant hunters
  • famine
  • geopolitics


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