Anwendung Evolutionstheorie

Course material for "Applications of Evolutionary Theory"

Summer semester


This course will provide examples and understanding of evolutionary processes occuring in agriculture and comparisons with wild plant populations. The stress will be put on how understanding theoretical aspects of evolutionary theory allows to understand the evolution of plant and pathogen species. The aim is to use such knowledge to derive more sustainable disease management strategies in agriculture, and understand the evolution of plant-pathogen systems in the wild.


The course will consist of four parts:

1) Host-parasite coevolution:

- application of population genetics to plant-pathogen interactions,

- importance of gene-for-gene interactions,

- Red Queen hypothesis = the evolution of sex


2) Evolution of micro-organisms pathogens of plants:

- Müller's Ratchet and genomic evolution in bacteria and fungi,

- theory of aggressiveness evolution,

- consequence for pathogen evolution and crop yield.


3) Plant pathology and epidemiology:

- plant disease epidemiology principles,

- models of disease spread,

- consequences for agriculture, disease management and plant breeding.


4) Evolution of pesticide/fungicide resistance:

- adaptive fitness landscapes,

- Fisher’s geometric model and distribution of fitness effects of mutations,

- consequences for fungicide use in the field.


The seminar part of the course will consist in the presentation of a research paper about one of these topics.