Assessing quantitative resistance against Leptosphaeria maculans (phoma stem canker) in Brassica napus (oilseed rape) in young plants : Assessing quantitative resistance to Leptosphaeria maculans
King, Graham J.
Fitt, Bruce D.L.
Quantitative resistance against Leptosphaeria maculans in Brassica napus is difficult to assess in young plants due to the long period of symptomless growth of the pathogen from the appearance of leaf lesions to the appearance of canker symptoms on the stem. By using doubled haploid (DH) lines A30 (susceptible) and C119 (with quantitative resistance), quantitative resistance against L. maculans was assessed in young plants in controlled environments at two stages: stage 1, growth of the pathogen along leaf veins/petioles towards the stem by leaf lamina inoculation; stage 2, growth in stem tissues to produce stem canker symptoms by leaf petiole inoculation. Two types of inoculum (ascospores; conidia) and three assessment methods (extent of visible necrosis; symptomless pathogen growth visualised using the GFP reporter gene; amount of pathogen DNA quantified by PCR) were used. In stage 1 assessments, significant differences were observed between lines A30 and C119 in area of leaf lesions, distance grown along veins/petioles assessed by visible necrosis or by viewing GFP and amount of L. maculans DNA in leaf petioles. In stage 2 assessments, significant differences were observed between lines A30 and C119 in severity of stem canker and amount of L. maculans DNA in stem tissues. GFP-labelled L. maculans spread more quickly from the stem cortex to the stem pith in A30 than in C119. Stem canker symptoms were produced more rapidly by using ascospore inoculum than by using conidial inoculum. These results suggest that quantitative resistance against L. maculans in B. napus can be assessed in young plants in controlled conditions. Development of methods to phenotype quantitative resistance against plant pathogens in young plants in controlled environments will help identification of stable quantitative resistance for control of crop diseases.