Alexey Mikaberidze: A new component of tolerance of wheat to its major fungal pathogen Zymoseptoria tritici operating on individual leaves

  • Date: Mar 9, 2020
  • Time: 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM (Local Time Germany)
  • Speaker: Alexey Mikaberidze from the University of Reading, UK
  • For more information on the speaker, please see:
  • Location: MPI Plön
  • Room: Lecture hall
  • Host: Maria Bargués i Ribera


Tolerance and resistance represent two strategies that hosts evolved to protect themselves from pathogens. Tolerance alleviates the reduction in host fitness due to infection without reducing a pathogen's growth, while resistance reduces pathogen growth. We investigated tolerance of wheat to the major fungal pathogen Zymoseptoria tritici in 335 elite wheat cultivars in a replicated field experiment. We used a novel digital phenotyping approach that included 11,152 infected leaves and counted 2,069,048 pathogen fruiting bodies. We discovered a new component of tolerance that is based on the relationship between the green area remaining on a leaf and the number of pathogen fruiting bodies. We found a negative correlation between tolerance and resistance among intolerant cultivars, presenting the first compelling evidence for a trade off between tolerance and resistance to plant pathogens. Surprisingly, the trade off arises due to limits in the host resources available to the pathogen and not due to metabolic constraints, contrary to what ecological theory suggests. This trade off has interesting consequences for the evolution virulence in pathogen populations. Our analysis indicates that European wheat breeders may have selected for tolerance instead of resistance to an important pathogen.

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