We examined patterns of variation and the extent of local adaptation in the interaction between the highly selfing annual weed Arabidopsis thaliana and its foliar bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas viridiflava by cross-infecting 23 bacterial isolates with 35 plant lines collected from six fallow or cultivated fields in the Midwest, USA. We used two measures of resistance and virulence: bacterial count in the leaf and symptom development four days after infection. We found variation in resistance in A. thaliana and virulence in P. viridiflava, as well as a significant difference in symptoms between two distinct genetic clades within P. viridiflava. We also observed that both resistance and plant development rate varied with field type of origin (cultivated or fallow), possibly through age-related resistance, a developmentally regulated general form of resistance. Finally, we did not observe local adaptation by host or pathogen, rather we found patterns of variation across populations that depended in part on P. viridiflava clade. These data suggest that the interaction between A. thaliana and P. viridiflava varies across space and is mediated by the selection regime of the host populations and differential performance of the P. viridiflava clades. This is one of a very limited number of studies examining a bacterial pathogen of wild plant populations and one of a few studies to examine patterns of variation in a plant-pathogen association that is not a highly specialized gene-for-gene interaction.
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