Development of bioassays for the evaluation of host resistance and crop protection products

  • Maes, Martine (Former Project Manager)

    Project Details


    Main research question/goal
    The aim of this project is to develop new bioassays or improve existing bioassays with plant pathogens. Such assays involve controlled inoculations of test plants. Each pathogen and each host plant species requires specific conditions for successful infection. The eventual aim is to use these bioassays in three areas: 1) to test if a cultivar contains a level of resistance to a (race of the) pathogen; 2) to determine if a traditional crop protection agent is effective against a specific isolate of a pathogen; and 3) to verify the efficacy of an alternative crop protection agent.

    Research approach
    When developing a bioassay for a particular pathogen, we first determine a method for controlled propagation. Next, we optimize the method of inoculation and determine the most optimal climate conditions for infection and pathogen growth. We also account for diversity within the pathogen population (differences in virulence corresponding to different races).

    Breeders of ornamental, vegetable, fruit and field crops are always looking for (improved) disease resistance. Successful artificial inoculation with pathogens is essential to test the level of resistance in breeding material and candidate cultivars. Thorough evaluation of traditional or alternative crop protection products also relies on bioassays. In contrast with natural infection, artificial inoculation results in a guaranteed and homogenous infection, especially under controlled climate conditions. In this way, treatments or new cultivars can be compared to non-treated controls or reference cultivars. Once developed, ILVO makes these bioassays available to the industry and breeders via the Diagnostic Centre for Plants (DCP). The bioassays are also used in ILVO’s breeding efforts and research programmes.
    Effective start/end date1/01/1031/12/17