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Systemic Acquired Resistance Delays Race Shifts to Major Resistance Genes in Bell Pepper

December 2004 , Volume 94 , Number  12
Pages  1,376 - 1,382

A. M. Romero and D. F. Ritchie

Department of Plant Pathology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh 27695

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Accepted for publication 19 August 2004.

The lack of durability of host plant disease resistance is a major problem in disease control. Genotype-specific resistance that involves major resistance (R) genes is especially prone to failure. The compatible (i.e., disease) host-pathogen interaction with systemic acquired resistance (SAR) has been studied extensively, but the incompatible (i.e., resistant) interaction less so. Using the pepper-bacterial spot (causal agent, Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. vesicatoria) pathosystem, we examined the effect of SAR in reducing the occurrence of race-change mutants that defeat R genes in laboratory, greenhouse, and field experiments. Pepper plants carrying one or more R genes were sprayed with the plant defense activator acibenzolar-S-methyl (ASM) and challenged with incompatible strains of the pathogen. In the greenhouse, disease lesions first were observed 3 weeks after inoculation. ASM-treated plants carrying a major R gene had significantly fewer lesions caused by both the incompatible (i.e., hypersensitive) and compatible (i.e., disease) responses than occurred on nonsprayed plants. Bacteria isolated from the disease lesions were confirmed to be race-change mutants. In field experiments, there was a delay in the detection of race-change mutants and a reduction in disease severity. Decreased disease severity was associated with a reduction in the number of race-change mutants and the suppression of disease caused by the race-change mutants. This suggests a possible mechanism related to a decrease in the pathogen population size, which subsequently reduces the number of race-change mutants for the selection pressure of R genes. Thus, inducers of SAR are potentially useful for increasing the durability of genotype-specific resistance conferred by major R genes.

© 2004 The American Phytopathological Society