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A Perception of Tolerance

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image of Nematologica
For more content, see Nematology.

In this speculative essay, tolerance to nematodes is perceived as a defensive process that has evolved by selection pressure from abiotic factors and not from nematodes themselves. It is suggested that nematodes do not cause peculiarly nematodal stresses in plants hence the plant only responds to the consequences of their disruptive activities. While most native plants are probably tolerant and susceptible to the nematodes with which they are associated, many agricultural plants have lost this capacity during selection for yield and quality. It is further suggested that plants that are tolerant to particular stresses caused by abiotic factors may also be tolerant to nematodes which cause the same stresses. In natural ecosystems it is possible that tolerance has enabled a lower level of resistance to be evolved hence in breeding plants for improved yields maximising tolerance and minimising resistance may be a useful strategy. Tolerance is perceived as a function of the physiology of the whole plant in which there are many contributing factors.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Plant Pathology, Waite Agricultural Research Institute, University of Adelaide, Glen Osmond, South Australia 5064


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