The Effects of Root-knot Nematode Infection and Mi-mediated Nematode Resistance in Tomato on Plant Fitness

Brandon P. Corbett, Lingling Jia, Ronald J. Sayler, Lirio Milenka Arevalo-Soliz, Fiona Goggin

Abstract


The Mi-1.2 resistance gene in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) confers resistance against several species of root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.). This study examined the impact of M. javanica on the reproductive fitness of near-isogenic tomato cultivars with and without Mi-1.2 under field and greenhouse conditions. Surprisingly, neither nematode inoculation or host plant resistance impacted the yield of mature fruits in field microplots (inoculum=8,000 eggs/plant), or fruit or seed production in a follow-up greenhouse bioassay conducted with a higher inoculum level (20,000 eggs/plant). However, under heavy nematode pressure (200,000 eggs/plant), greenhouse-grown plants carrying Mi-1.2 had more than ten-fold greater fruit production than susceptible plants and nearly forty-fold greater estimated lifetime seed production, confirming prior reports of the benefits of Mi-1.2. In all cases Mi-mediated resistance significantly reduced nematode reproduction. These results indicated that tomato can utilize tolerance mechanisms to compensate for moderate levels of nematode infection, but that the Mi-1.2 resistance gene confers a dramatic fitness benefit under heavy nematode pressure. No significant cost of resistance was detected in the absence of nematode infection.

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