In Cahoots! Can runoff spread pathogens?
Yes - we think so! Check out our latest paper "Saturation excess overland flow accelerates the spread of a generalist soil-borne pathogen" in the Journal of Hydrology with free open access until February, here!
I've had a long-standing (morbid) fascination with interconnections between hydrology and plant pathogens, which I started exploring these in 2010 in Princeton with the fabulous Ignacio Rodriguez-Iturbe and Simon Levin. Although we played with spatial models, we lacked data to test them with ... 10 years later, colleagues in Spain and Australia supplied just the datasets needed... and Jeannie Wilkening built a minimal model for pathogen transport in surface runoff. The model results for contrasting sites in Spain and Australia have convinced us that it's very likely Phytophthora cinnamomi (Jarrah dieback for the Western Australians!) moves in overland flow, accelerating the spread of infection. Read the article and let us know what you think!