Exploration and exploitation strategies of powdery mildew on barley cultivars with different levels of nutrients

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The mass fractal dimension (MFD) of colonies of mildew (Erysiphe graminis f.sp. hordei) growing on barley was calculated as a measure of their spatial structure. Despite the elongated shape of the colonies imposed by the leaf cellular structure, the MFD remained constant with scale. The mildew MFD differed on different cultivars of barley, and was greater on leaves produced under higher nutrient level indicating a physiological component. Lower MFD values correspond with the thin spreading growth associated with exploration strategies and higher values correspond to the denser, more branched structure associated with exploitation of the substrate. Cultivars showing exploration strategies induced by resistance expression responded to increased nutrient levels more than those expressing little resistance such as Golden Promise.

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