Plant architecture, its diversity and manipulation in agronomic conditions, in relation with pest and pathogen attacks
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- Costes, E., Lauri, P.E., Simon, S. et al. Eur J Plant Pathol (2013) 135: 455. doi:10.1007/s10658-012-0158-3
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Plant architectural traits have been reported to impact pest and disease, i.e., attackers, incidence on several crops and to potentially provide alternative, although partial, solutions to limit chemical applications. In this paper, we introduce the major concepts of plant architecture analysis that can be used for investigating plant interactions with attacker development. We briefly review how primary growth, branching and reiteration allow the plant to develop its 3D structure which properties may allow it (or not) to escape or survive to attacks. Different scales are considered: (i) the organs, in which nature, shape and position may influence pest and pathogen attack and development; (ii) the individual plant form, especially the spatial distribution of leaves in space which determines the within-plant micro-climate and the shoot distribution, topological connections which influence the within-plant propagation of attackers; and (iii) the plant population, in which density and spatial arrangement affect the micro-climate gradients within the canopy and may lead to different risks of propagation from plant to plant. At the individual scale, we show how growth, branching and flowering traits combine to confer to every plant species an intrinsic architectural model. However, these traits vary quantitatively between genotypes within the species. In addition, we analyze how they can be modulated throughout plant ontogeny and by environmental conditions, here considered lato sensu, i.e. including climatic conditions and manipulations by humans. Examples from different plant species with various architectural types, in particular for wheat and apple, are provided to draw a comprehensive view of possible plant protection strategies which could benefit from plant architectural traits, their genetic variability as well as their plasticity to environmental conditions and agronomic manipulations. Associations between species and/or genotypes having different susceptibility and form could also open new solutions to improve the tolerance to pest and disease at whole population scale.