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Aggressiveness and Competitive Fitness of Phytophthora infestans Isolates Collected from Potato and Tomato in France

August 1999 , Volume 89 , Number  8
Pages  679 - 686

Lionel Lebreton , Jean-Marie Lucas , and Didier Andrivon

INRA Station de Pathologie Végétale, Domaine de la Motte, BP 29, F-35653 Le Rheu Cedex, France

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Accepted for publication 3 April 1999.

To test the hypothesis that host-related differences in the genotypic composition of populations of the late blight pathogen Phytophthora infestans can be explained by differential pathogenicity, the aggressiveness of isolates of the pathogen collected in France from potato and tomato was measured on detached leaflets of potato (cv. Bintje) and tomato (cv. Marmande). A preliminary trial with four isolates (two each from potato and tomato) showed that lesion appearance and development were similar for each isolate in detached leaflets and in whole plant tests in growth cabinets. Isolates collected from tomato were more pathogenic to tomato than isolates collected from potato. This was particularly the case for isolates belonging to the A2 mating type. Isolates originating from potato had a higher infection efficiency and a higher sporulation capacity on this host, but they induced lesions that generally spread more slowly than those caused by isolates from tomato. Extensive variation for components of aggressiveness on potato, and to a lesser extent on tomato, was observed in collections of isolates from each of the two hosts. Competition experiments between one potato isolate and one tomato isolate in field plots of the susceptible potato cv. Bintje clearly demonstrated the higher competitive fitness of the potato isolate on its host of origin. Therefore, differential pathogenicity to potato and tomato certainly contributes to the differentiation between P. infestans populations present on potato and tomato in France; however, additional factors, possibly related to survival ability or random genetic drift, are probably also involved and may explain the persistence of weakly pathogenic isolates in these populations.

Additional keywords: Lycopersicum esculentum, population structure, Solanum tuberosum.

© 1999 The American Phytopathological Society