A novel approach to the design and analysis of field experiments to study variation in the tolerance and resistance of cultivars to root lesion nematodes (Pratylenchus spp.)

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Print: 0031-949X Electronic: 1943-7684


disease control and pest management, experimental design, nematology, population biology, random regression analysis, resistance, tolerance


Agronomy and Crop Sciences


The root lesion nematode (RLN) species Pratylenchus thornei and P. neglectus are widely distributed within cropping regions of Australia and have been shown to limit grain production. Field experiments conducted to compare the performance of cultivars in the presence of RLNs investigate management options for growers by identifying cultivars with resistance, by limiting nematode reproduction, and tolerance, by yielding well in the presence of nematodes. A novel experimental design approach for RLN experiments is proposed where the observed RLN density, measured prior to sowing, is used to condition the randomization of cultivars to field plots. This approach ensured that all cultivars were exposed to consistent ranges of RLN in order to derive valid assessments of relative cultivar tolerance and resistance. Using data from a field experiment designed using the conditioned randomization approach and conducted in Formartin, Australia, the analysis of tolerance and resistance was undertaken in a linear mixed model framework. Yield response curves were derived using a random regression approach and curves modeling change in RLN densities between sowing and harvest were derived using splines to account for nonlinearity. Groups of cultivars sharing similar resistance levels could be identified. A comparison of slopes of yield response curves of cultivars belonging to the same resistance class identified differing tolerance levels for cultivars with equivalent exposures to both presowing and postharvest RLN densities. As such, the proposed design and analysis approach allowed tolerance to be assessed independently of resistance.



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