All authors: INRA, UMR1355 ISA; UNS UMR ISA; CNRS UMR7254 ISA F-06903 Sophia Antipolis, France.
Root-knot nematodes (RKNs) (Meloidogyne spp.) are highly polyphagous pests that parasitize Prunus crops in Mediterranean climates. Breeding for RKN-resistant Prunus cultivars, as an alternative to the now-banned use of nematicides, is a real challenge, because the perennial nature of these trees increases the risk of resistance breakdown. The Ma plum resistance (R) gene, with a complete spectrum, and the RMia peach R gene, with a more restricted spectrum, both provide total control of Meloidogyne incognita, the model parthenogenetic species of the genus and the most important RKN in terms of economic losses. We investigated the durability of the resistance to this nematode conferred by these genes, comparing the results obtained with those for the tomato Mi-1 reference gene. In multiyear experiments, we applied a high and continuous nematode inoculum pressure by cultivating nematode-infested susceptible tomato plants with either Prunus accessions carrying Ma or RMia R genes, or with resistant tomato plants carrying the Mi-1 gene. Suitable conditions for Prunus development were achieved by carrying out the studies in a glasshouse, in controlled conditions allowing a short winter leaf fall and dormancy. We first assessed the plum accession ‘P.2175’, which is heterozygous for the Ma gene, in two successive 2-year evaluations, for resistance to two M. incognita isolates. Whatever the isolate used, no nematodes reproducing on P.2175 were detected, whereas galls and nematodes reproducing on tomato plants carrying Mi-1 were observed. In a second experiment with the most aggressive isolate, interspecific full-sib material (P.2175 × [‘Garfi’ almond × ‘Nemared’ peach]), carrying either Ma or RMia (from Nemared) or both (in the heterozygous state) or neither of these genes, was evaluated for 4 years. No virulent nematodes developed on Prunus spp. carrying R genes, whereas galling and virulent individuals were observed on Mi-1-resistant tomato plants. Thus, the resistance to M. incognita conferred by Ma in Prunus material in both a pure-plum and an interspecific genetic background, or by RMia in an interspecific background, appears to be durable, highlighting the value of these two genes for the creation of Prunus rootstock material.