M. S. Sisterson, D. C. Stenger
18 January 2018
Deployment of resistant varieties is a key strategy to mitigating economic losses due to arthropod-transmitted plant pathogens of perennial crops. In many cases, the best available resistant traits for introgression confer only partial resistance. Plants displaying partial resistance have lower pathogen titers than susceptible counterparts, but remain hosts for the pathogen. As partially resistant varieties maintain yield after infection, infected plants are unlikely to be rogued (i.e., removed). Accordingly, there is a risk that partially resistant plants could serve as a source of inoculum for pathogen spread to susceptible plants. Here, a mathematical model that tracked spread of an arthropod-transmitted pathogen in a plant population consisting of susceptible and partially resistant plants was used to identify a threshold acquisition rate from partially resistant plants that resulted in limited spread of the pathogen from partially resistant plants to susceptible plants.
The acquisition threshold from partially resistant plants varied with parameters influenced by disease management decisions such as number of vectors per plant, vector turnover, replacement of susceptible plants, and proportion of plants that were partially resistant. In model simulations, effects of deploying a partially resistant variety on disease incidence in a susceptible variety depended on the extent to which pathogen spread among susceptible plants was suppressed and acquisition rates from partially resistant plants. Collectively, the results indicate that risk of partially resistant plants serving as inoculum sources could be assessed prior to deployment, thereby enabling design of complementary disease management tactics to minimize economic losses in susceptible varieties following deployment.