, Volume 135, Issue 3, pp 561-580

Crop architecture and crop tolerance to fungal diseases and insect herbivory. Mechanisms to limit crop losses

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Abstract

Plant tolerance to biotic stresses (mostly limited here to fungal pathogens and insects) is the ability of a plant to maintain performance in the presence of expressed disease or insect herbivory. It differs from resistance (the capacity to eliminate or limit pests and pathogens by genetic and molecular mechanisms) and avoidance (the ability to escape infection by epidemics). The ways to tolerance of pests and diseases are multiple and expressed at different scales. The contribution of organs to the capture and use of resources depends on canopy and root architecture, so the respective locations of disease and plant organs will have a strong effect on the crop’s response. Similarly, tolerance is increased when the period of crop sensitivity lies outside the period within which the pest or pathogen is present. The ability of the plant to compensate for the reduced acquisition of resources by the production of new organs or by remobilization of reserves may also mitigate biotic stress effects. Numerous examples exist in the literature and are described in this article. Quantification of tolerance remains difficult because of: (i) the large number of potential mechanisms involved; (ii) different rates of development of plants, pests and pathogens; and (iii) various compensatory mechanisms. Modelling is, therefore, a valuable tool to quantify losses, but also to prioritize the processes involved.