Herbarium studies on the distribution of anther-smut fungus (Microbotryum violaceum) and Silene species (Caryophyllaceae) in the eastern United States
Antonovics, J.; Hood, M.E.; Thrall, P.H.; Abrams, J.Y.; Duthie, G.M.
American Journal of Botany 90(10): 1522-1531
ISSN/ISBN: 0002-9122 PMID: 21659105 DOI: 10.3732/ajb.90.10.1522
We used herbarium specimens of Silene virginica, S. caroliniana, S. rotundifolia, and S. latifolia to survey the incidence of anther-smut disease (caused by Microbotryum violaceum sensu lato) in the eastern USA. We found no evidence of a collector bias against diseased specimens. Diseased specimens were frequently found in collections of S. virginica and S. caroliniana, but not in those of S. rotundifolia or S. latifolia. Disease incidence in S. virginica and S. caroliniana increased significantly over the past century and was higher in marginal populations. The absence of disease in specimens of S. rotundifolia is consistent with field observations, but its presence in natural populations of S. latifolia (especially in Virginia) suggests that the disease is recently introduced. Changes in the host distributions were also evident. The relative abundance of S. caroliniana declined over time (especially further north), while the relative abundance of S. virginica increased. Silene latifolia was absent or rare south of Pennsylvania before ca. 1920, indicating that S. latifolia and its anther smut are likely to be recent introductions in Virginia. Methods are also presented that quantify the completeness of coverage provided by herbarium specimens.