A 10-year Survey of Populations of Leptosphaeria maculans in France Indicates a Rapid Adaptation Towards the Rlm1 Resistance Gene of Oilseed Rape
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Leptosphaeria maculans, the cause of stem canker of oilseed rape (OSR), exhibits gene-for-gene interactions with its host plant. The race structure of L. maculans was assessed on the basis of the analysis of 1011 isolates collected in France between 1990 and 2000, with regards to three AVR genes, AvrLm1, AvrLm2 and AvrLm4. The effect of selection pressure, due to large-scale cropping of Rlm1 cultivars, on the evolution of races of the fungus was also evaluated. The results revealed a scarcity or complete absence of isolates harbouring AvrLm2, whereas isolates harbouring AvrLm4 were present at a variable level, that was as high as 17.2–31.2% depending on the sample year and location. When obtained from rlm1 cultivars, isolates harbouring AvrLm1 always represented more than 83% of the populations until the 1997–1998 growing season. As a consequence, the Rlm1 cultivars had been highly efficient at controlling the disease and were grown on an estimated 43.7% of the total French acreage in OSR in 1998–1999. However, the increased commercial success of Rlm1 cultivars was paralleled by a decrease in the proportion of isolates harbouring AvrLm1 in 1997–1998 and 1998–1999. This resulted in less than 13% of isolates harbouring AvrLm1 in populations being collected from rlm1 cultivars in 1999 and 2000, and contributed to the loss of efficiency of the Rlm1 resistance in the field. The present study is an illustration of one round of a `boom and bust' cycle that occurred for a pathosystem where it has never been reported before. These data and the high evolutionary potential of L. maculans are fully supportive of one pathogen species with a high risk of breaking down resistance genes in OSR and suggest that the development of integrated strategies aiming at maximising the durability of novel resistance is now a priority for this pathosystem.
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