Because of their microscopic size, the forcibly ejected spores of ascomycete fungi are quickly brought to rest by drag. Nonetheless some apothecial species, including the pathogen Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, disperse with astonishing rapidity between ephemeral habitats. Here we show that by synchronizing the ejection of thousands of spores, these fungi create a flow of air that carries spores through the nearly still air surrounding the apothecium, around intervening obstacles, and to atmospheric currents and new infection sites. High-speed imaging shows that synchronization is self-organized and likely triggered by mechanical stresses. Although many spores are sacrificed to produce the favorable airflow, creating the potential for conflict among spores, the geometry of the spore jet physically targets benefits of the airflow to spores that cooperate maximally in its production. The ability to manipulate a local fluid environment to enhance spore dispersal is a previously overlooked feature of the biology of fungal pathogens, and almost certainly shapes the virulence of species including S. sclerotiorum. Synchronous spore ejection may also provide a model for the evolution of stable, self-organized behaviors.

Dispersal of fungal spores on a cooperatively generated wind

Seminara A.;
2010

Abstract

Because of their microscopic size, the forcibly ejected spores of ascomycete fungi are quickly brought to rest by drag. Nonetheless some apothecial species, including the pathogen Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, disperse with astonishing rapidity between ephemeral habitats. Here we show that by synchronizing the ejection of thousands of spores, these fungi create a flow of air that carries spores through the nearly still air surrounding the apothecium, around intervening obstacles, and to atmospheric currents and new infection sites. High-speed imaging shows that synchronization is self-organized and likely triggered by mechanical stresses. Although many spores are sacrificed to produce the favorable airflow, creating the potential for conflict among spores, the geometry of the spore jet physically targets benefits of the airflow to spores that cooperate maximally in its production. The ability to manipulate a local fluid environment to enhance spore dispersal is a previously overlooked feature of the biology of fungal pathogens, and almost certainly shapes the virulence of species including S. sclerotiorum. Synchronous spore ejection may also provide a model for the evolution of stable, self-organized behaviors.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11567/1080678
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