By G. E. Russell
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Additional info for Plant Breeding for Pest and Disease Resistance. Studies in the Agricultural and Food Sciences
Sugar beet can be very badly attacked, particularly in parts of the USA and southern Europe, by the leaf spot fungus Cercospora beticola (see page 126), and similar examples could be given of damaging fungal diseases in most crops; many of these will be discussed particularly in relation to breeding for resistance, in Chapter 4. Although it is impossible to quantify accurately the losses caused both directly and indirectly by fungal diseases of crop plants, it is clear that these losses are very great and every effort should be made to reduce them.
Plant breeders can produce resistant inbred lines of many cross-pollinated crop species by seifing or sib-mating (brother X sister mating) plants that have been selected for resistance. However, some species, including many Brassicas, have very effective self-compatibility systems and special techniques have to be employed for inbreeding. Some cross-pollinators such as hemp and cucurbits show little inbreeding depression, but the vigour of others such as alfalfa is so reduced, after two or three generations of inbreeding, that only very limited inbreeding is feasible.
3 PATHOGENIC FUNGI AND FUNGAL DISEASES The Economic Importance of Fungal Diseases Although there are more than 100000 different species of fungi, only about 200 of these are serious pathogens of crop plants. Most crop species are attacked by only a small number of fungi and very few of these cause severe and widespread economic damage. Nevertheless it has been estimated that fungal diseases are responsible for an annual reduction of more than 20 per cent of the total potential world food production from crop plants.