Ferns have fewer fungal pathogens than flowering plants

This study used the extensive plant-fungal data bases at the USDA to show that ferns suffer from fewer fungal diseases than flowering plants. The reasons for this difference are currenty unknown, but understanding the molecular basis for the greater resistance of ferns has potential importance for improving disease resistance in crop plants.

A rust fungus (Hyalospora polypodii) on the brittle fern (Cystopteris fragilis) in northern Italy. The rust spores are in the orange pustules, while the brown dots are the fungal spores.


Ferns have neither downy or powdery mildews nor smut fungi, pathogens common in higher plants.



Antonovics, J. 2020. Pathogenic fungi in ferns and angiosperms: a comparative study. American Fern Journal 110: 79-94.

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