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Keywords:

  • Blackleg;
  • Brassica;
  • canola;
  • disease resistance;
  • gene-for-gene interaction;
  • Leptosphaeria maculans;
  • R gene

Abstract

The study of the relationship between plants and phytopathogenic fungi is one of the most rapidly moving fields in the plant sciences, the findings of which have contributed to the development of new strategies and technologies to protect crops. Plants employ sophisticated mechanisms to perceive and appropriately defend themselves against pathogens. A good example of plant and pathogen evolution is the gene-for-gene interaction between the fungal pathogen Leptosphaeria maculans, the causal agent of blackleg disease, and Brassica crops. This interaction has been studied at the genetic and physiological level due to its agro-economic importance. The newly available genome sequence for Brassica spp. and L. maculans will provide the resources to study the co-evolution of this plant and pathogen. Particularly, an understanding of the co-evolution of genes responsible for virulence and resistance will lead to improved plant protection strategies for Brassica canola and provide a model to understand plant–pathogen interactions in other major crops. This review summarises the research-to-date in the study of the Brassica–L. maculans gene-for-gene interaction, with a focus on the genetics of resistance in Brassica and the wealth of information to be gained from genome sequencing efforts.