The SECURE project – Stem canker of oilseed rape: : molecular methods and mathematical modelling to deploy durable resistance
Fitt, Bruce D.L.
van den Bosch, Frank
Eckert, M. R.
Balesdent, M H
Modelling done during the SECURE project has demonstrated the dynamic nature of the interaction between phoma stem canker (Leptosphaeria maculans), the oilseed rape host (Brassica napus) and the environment. Experiments done with near-isogenic lines of L. maculans to investigate pathogen fitness support field data that suggest a positive effect of the avirulence allele AvrLm4 on pathogen fitness, and that the loss of this allele renders isolates less competitive under field conditions on cultivars without the resistance gene Rlm4. The highlight of molecular work was the cloning of AvrLm1 and AvrLm6. L. maculans is now one of the few fungal species for which two avirulence loci have been cloned. Subsequent research focused on understanding the function of AvrLm1 and AvrLm6 and on the analysis of sequences of virulent isolates to understand molecular evolution towards virulence. Isolates of L. maculans transformed with GFP and/or DsRed were used to follow growth of the fungus in B. napus near-isogenic-lines (NIL) with or without MX (Rlm6) resistance under different temperature and wetness conditions. The results greatly enhanced our knowledge of the infection process and the rate and extent of in planta growth on different cultivars. Conclusions from work to model durability of resistance have been tested under field conditions through a series of experiments to compare durability of resistance conferred by the major resistance gene Rlm6 alone in a susceptible background (EurolMX) or in a resistant background (DarmorMX) under recurrent selection over 4 growing seasons. A major priority of the project was knowledge transfer of results and recommendations to target audiences such as plant breeding companies and extension services. CETIOM developed a “diversification scheme” that encourages French growers to make an informed choice about the cultivars that are grown within the rotation based on the resistance genes carried by the individual cultivars. Use of such schemes, in association with survey data on the population structure of L. maculans at both national and European scales will provide opportunities for breeders and the industry to manage available B. napus resistance more effectively.