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The Relationship of Host-Mediated Induced Resistance to Polymorphism in Gene-for-Gene Relationships

January 2008 , Volume 98 , Number  1
Pages  128 - 136

Aurélien Tellier and James K. M. Brown

Department of Disease and Stress Biology, John Innes Centre, Colney, Norwich, NR4 7UH, UK.

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Accepted for publication 24 August 2007.

Gene-for-gene relationships are a common feature of plant-parasite interactions. Polymorphism at host resistance and parasite avirulence loci is maintained if there is negative, direct frequency-dependent selection on alleles of either gene. More specifically, selection of this kind is generated when the disease is polycyclic with frequent auto-infection. When an incompatible interaction occurs between a resistant host and an avirulent parasite, systemic defenses are triggered, rendering the plant more resistant to a later attack by another parasite. However, induced resistance (IR) incurs a fitness cost to the plant. Here, the effect of IR on polymorphism in gene-for-gene interactions is investigated. First, in an infinite population model in which parasites have two generations per host generation, increasing the fitness cost of IR increases selection for susceptible plants at low disease severity, while increasing the effectiveness of IR against further parasite attacks enhances selection for resistant plants at high disease severity. This reduces the possibility of polymorphism being maintained in host and parasite populations. In finite population models, the number of plants varies over time as a function of the disease burden of the population. Polymorphism in gene-for-gene relationships is then more stable at high disease prevalence and severity if IR reactions are more costly when there is competition for resources between plants.

Additional keywords:coevolution, epidemiological models, natural selection, resistance, virulence.

© 2008 The American Phytopathological Society