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Ann Bot. 2007 Dec;100(6):1125-42. Epub 2007 Jul 23.

South American leaf blight of the rubber tree (Hevea spp.): new steps in plant domestication using physiological features and molecular markers.

Author information

1
Biocenter Klein Flottbek and Botanical Garden, University of Hamburg, Unit of Applied Ecology and Crop Science, Ohnhorststr. 16, D-22609 Hamburg, Germany. reinhard.lieberei@botanik.uni-hamburg.de

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Rubber trees (Hevea spp.) are perennial crops of Amazonian origin that have been spread over the whole tropical belt to guarantee worldwide production of natural rubber. This crop plant has found its place in many national economies of producing countries, and although its domestication by selection of suitable genotypes was very slow, it contributes a lot to the welfare of small farmers worldwide. Its development is limited by severe diseases. In South America, the main fungal disease of rubber trees is the South American leaf blight (SALB) caused by the ascomycete Microcyclus ulei. This fungus inhibits natural rubber production on a commercial scale in South and Central America.

SCOPE:

The disease is still restricted to its continent of origin, but its potential to be distributed around the world rises with every transcontinental airline connection that directly links tropical regions. The need to develop control measures against the disease is an urgent task and must be carried out on an international scale. All control efforts so far taken since 1910 have ended in a miserable failure. Even the use of modern systemic fungicides and use of greatly improved application techniques have failed to prevent large losses and dieback of trees. The results of research dealing with both the disease and the pathosystem over more than 50 years are summarized and placed into perspective.

FUTURE PROSPECTS:

A detailed knowledge of this host-pathogen combination requires understanding of the dynamics of Hevea leaf development, the biochemical potential for cyanide liberation, and molecular data for several types of resistance factors. Resolution of the Hevea-SALB problem may serve as a model for future host-pathogen studies of perennial plants requiring a holistic approach.

PMID:
17650512
PMCID:
PMC2759241
DOI:
10.1093/aob/mcm133
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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