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Quantitative resistance can lead to evolutionary changes in traits not targeted by the resistance QTLs.

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Van den Berg, F 
Lannou, C 
Gilligan, CA 
van de Bosch, F 


This paper addresses the general concern in plant pathology that the introduction of quantitative resistance in the landscape can lead to increased pathogenicity. Hereto, we study the hypothetical case of a quantitative trait loci (QTL) acting on pathogen spore production per unit lesion area. To regain its original fitness, the pathogen can break the QTL, restoring its spore production capacity leading to an increased spore production per lesion. Or alternatively, it can increase its lesion size, also leading to an increased spore production per lesion. A data analysis shows that spore production per lesion (affected by the resistance QTL) and lesion size (not targeted by the QTL) are positively correlated traits, suggesting that a change in magnitude of a trait not targeted by the QTL (lesion size) might indirectly affect the targeted trait (spore production per lesion). Secondly, we model the effect of pathogen adaptation towards increased lesion size and analyse its consequences for spore production per lesion. The model calculations show that when the pathogen is unable to overcome the resistance associated QTL, it may compensate for its reduced fitness by indirect selection for increased pathogenicity on both the resistant and susceptible cultivar, but whereby the QTLs remain effective.



Puccinia triticina, erosion of resistance, life cycle trait adaptation, plant breeding, quantitative pathogenicity, quantitative resistance, wheat

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Evolutionary Applications

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Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/E527163/1)
Rothamsted Research receives support from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) of the United Kingdom. F v d Berg was funded by an INRA-BBSRC funded project entitled ‘Epidemiological and evolutionary models for invasion and persistence of disease’. CAG gratefully acknowledges support of a BBSRC Professional Fellowship.