, Volume 124, Issue 2, pp 163–180

The population genetics of plant pathogens and breeding strategies for durable resistance

  • Bruce A. McDonald
  • Celeste Linde

DOI: 10.1023/A:1015678432355

Cite this article as:
McDonald, B.A. & Linde, C. Euphytica (2002) 124: 163. doi:10.1023/A:1015678432355


The durability of disease resistance is affected by the evolutionary potential of the pathogen population. Pathogens with a high evolutionary potential are more likely to overcome genetic resistance than pathogens with a low evolutionary potential. We will propose a set of guidelines to predict the evolutionary potential of pathogen populations based on analysis of their genetic structure. Under our model of pathogen evolution, the two most important parameters to consider are reproduction/mating system and gene/genotype flow. Pathogens that pose the greatest risk of breaking down resistance genes are those that possess a mixed reproduction system, with at least one sexual cycle per growing season and asexual reproduction during the epidemic phase, and a high potential for gene flow. The lowest risk pathogens are those with strict asexual reproduction and low potential for gene flow. We will present examples of high- and low-risk pathogens. Knowledge of the population genetic structure of the pathogen may offer insight into the best breeding strategy for durable resistance. We will present broad guidelines suggesting a rational method for breeding durable resistance according to the population genetics of the pathogen.

breeding strategy evolutionary potential gene deployment gene flow genetic structure mating system risk assessment 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce A. McDonald
    • 1
  • Celeste Linde
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Plant SciencesPlant Pathology Group, Federal Institute of Technology, ETH-Zentrum, LFWZürichSwitzerland

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