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A Test of Taxonomic Predictivity: Resistance to Early Blight in Wild Relatives of Cultivated Potato

June 2008 , Volume 98 , Number  6
Pages  680 - 687

S. H. Jansky, R. Simon, and D. M. Spooner

First and third authors: U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Department of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 53706; and second author: International Potato Center, P.O. Box 1558, La Molina, Lima 12, Peru.

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Accepted for publication 1 February 2008.

Host plant resistance offers an attractive method of control for early blight (caused by the foliar fungus Alternaria solani), a widespread disease that appears annually in potato crops worldwide. We tested the assumed ability of taxonomy to predict the presence of early blight resistance genes in wild Solanum species for which resistance was observed in related species. We also tested associations to ploidy, crossing group, breeding system, and geography. As in a prior study of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (white mold) resistance, tremendous variation for resistance to early blight was found to occur within and among species. There was no discernable relationship between the distribution of resistant phenotypes and taxonomic series (based on an intuitive interpretation of morphological data), clade (based on a cladistic analysis of plastid DNA data), ploidy, breeding system, geographic distance, or climate parameters. Species and individual accessions with high proportions of early blight resistant plants were identified, but high levels of inter- and intra-accession variability were observed. Consequently, the designation of species or accessions as resistant or susceptible must take this variation into account. This study calls into question the assumption that taxonomic or geographic data can be used to predict sources of early blight resistance in wild Solanum species.

Additional keywords:disease resistance.

The American Phytopathological Society, 2008