Resistant cultivars are key elements for pathogen control and pesticide reduction, but their repeated use may lead to the emergence of virulent pathogen populations, able to overcome the resistance. Increased research efforts, mainly based on theoretical studies, explore spatio-temporal deployment strategies of resistance genes in order to maximize their durability. We evaluated experimentally three of these strategies to control root-knot nematodes: cultivar mixtures, alternating and pyramiding resistance genes, under controlled and field conditions over a 3-years period, assessing the efficiency and the durability of resistance in a protected crop rotation system with pepper as summer crop and lettuce as winter crop.
The choice of the resistance gene and the genetic background in which it is introgressed, affected the frequency of resistance breakdown. The pyramiding of two different resistance genes in one genotype suppressed the emergence of virulent isolates. Alternating different resistance genes in rotation was also efficient to decrease virulent populations in fields due to the specificity of the virulence and the trapping effect of resistant plants. Mixing resistant cultivars together appeared as a less efficient strategy to control nematodes.
This work provides experimental evidence that, in a cropping system with seasonal sequences of vegetable species, pyramiding or alternating resistance genes benefit yields in the long-term by increasing the durability of resistant cultivars and improving the long-term control of a soil-borne pest. To our knowledge, this result is the first one obtained for a plant-nematode interaction, which helps demonstrate the general applicability of such strategies for breeding and sustainable management of resistant cultivars against pathogens.
Breeding strategy; Capsicum spp; Meloidogyne spp; Resistance gene deployment; Root-knot nematodes; Sustainable crop protection; Virulence emergence