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Keywords:

  • competition;
  • diversified agroecosystems;
  • Puccinia striiformis ;
  • quantitative/partial resistance;
  • reaction–diffusion model;
  • Triticum aestivum ;
  • wheat yellow (stripe) rust

Summary

  • Unlike qualitative plant resistance, which confers immunity to disease, quantitative resistance confers only a reduction in disease severity and this can be nonspecific. Consequently, the outcome of its deployment in cultivar mixtures is not easy to predict, as on the one hand it may reduce the heterogeneity of the mixture, but on the other it may induce competition between nonspecialized strains of the pathogen.
  • To clarify the principles for the successful use of quantitative plant resistance in disease management, we built a parsimonious model describing the dynamics of competing pathogen strains spreading through a mixture of cultivars carrying nonspecific quantitative resistance.
  • Using the parameterized model for a wheat–yellow rust system, we demonstrate that a more effective use of quantitative resistance in mixtures involves reinforcing the effect of the highly resistant cultivars rather than replacing them. We highlight the fact that the judicious deployment of the quantitative resistance in two- or three-component mixtures makes it possible to reduce disease severity using only small proportions of the highly resistant cultivar.
  • Our results provide insights into the effects on pathogen dynamics of deploying quantitative plant resistance, and can provide guidance for choosing appropriate associations of cultivars and optimizing diversification strategies.