Title of symposium:
Tropical plant-pathogen interactions in a changing world

Principal organizer:
Julieta Benítez-Malvido

Liza Comita
Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

Symposium summary:
Fungal pathogens drive many ecological (e.g., forest succession) and evolutionary processes (e.g., species diversification) and represent an essential component of biodiversity in natural ecosystems. All plant species and plant structures are susceptible to attack by fungal pathogens, at any time in their life cycles. Furthermore, jointly with insects, fungal pathogens comprise the major threat to wild or cultivated plant species with strong socio-economic implications in agro-ecosystems. Increasingly, plant-pathogen interactions are being studied in tropical natural systems, yielding new and exciting results. Yet, we still lack a complete understanding of how these interactions may be altered in a changing world. Increasing human impacts on natural ecosystems, the accidental movement of pathogens, large-scale intensive agriculture and forestry together with climate change are associated with the emergence of new plant diseases or disruption of key plant-pathogen interactions that shape tropical forests. In this symposium, our main objective is to bring together researchers employing different approaches and perspectives that will, hopefully, provide new insights into the understanding of plant-pathogen interactions in a changing world. The ultimate goal of the symposium is to improve our knowledge of these important interactions to better inform the conservation of tropical biodiversity as well as the sustainable management of natural, agricultural and forestry systems in the tropics.

List of speakers and presentation titles:

  1. Liza Comita, Yale, USA
    “Symposium introductory talk: Tropical plant-pathogen interactions in a changing world.”
  2. Lars Markesteijn, School of Environment, Natural Resources & Geography, Bangor University.
    “Fungal pathogens and insect herbivores mediate seedling dynamics and diversity patterns along a tropical forest humidity gradient.”
  3. Julian Donald & Jerome Chauve, University Paul Sabatier in Toulouse
    “Endophyte communities in the canopies of the forests of French Guiana, and the potential consequences for plant survival.”
  4. Robert Bagchi, University of Connecticut, USA
    “How might altered plant-pathogen interactions reduce plant diversity in disturbed forests?”
  5. Julieta Benítez-Malvido, UNAM, Mexico
    “Tropical rainforest fragmentation and plant susceptibility to pathogen attack.”
  6. Meghna Krishnadas, Yale University, USA
    “Dampened regulation by natural enemies decreases plant diversity with edge-effects in fragmented forests.”
  7. Ricardo Santillán, Sylvia P. Fernández-Pavía, Julieta Benítez-Malvido & Gerardo Rodríguez-Alvarado, IIAF, Mexico
    “Fusarium associated to big-leaf mahogany malformation disease in Mexico.”