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Nature. 2000 Aug 17;406(6797):718-22.

Genetic diversity and disease control in rice.

Author information

1
The Phytopathology Laboratory of Yunnan Province, Yunnan Agricultural University, Kunming, China.

Abstract

Crop heterogeneity is a possible solution to the vulnerability of monocultured crops to disease. Both theory and observation indicate that genetic heterogeneity provides greater disease suppression when used over large areas, though experimental data are lacking. Here we report a unique cooperation among farmers, researchers and extension personnel in Yunnan Province, China--genetically diversified rice crops were planted in all the rice fields in five townships in 1998 and ten townships in 1999. Control plots of monocultured crops allowed us to calculate the effect of diversity on the severity of rice blast, the major disease of rice. Disease-susceptible rice varieties planted in mixtures with resistant varieties had 89% greater yield and blast was 94% less severe than when they were grown in monoculture. The experiment was so successful that fungicidal sprays were no longer applied by the end of the two-year programme. Our results support the view that intraspecific crop diversification provides an ecological approach to disease control that can be highly effective over a large area and contribute to the sustainability of crop production.

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PMID:
10963595
DOI:
10.1038/35021046
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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