Submitted to: Crop Science Society of America Monograph
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: June 15, 2006
Publication Date: July 5, 2006
Citation: Spooner, D.M. 2006. The predictive value of taxonomy in disease resistance of wild potatoes. Crop Science Society of America Monograph. p. 55. Technical Abstract: Plant pathogen interactions have evolved over time and space. Studies of such interactions can be conducted on individual plant host interactions, or can be inferred from broader scale studies using systematic and biogeographical variables. Recent developments in molecular biology, cladistic theory and methodology, genomic studies, and computer power and algorithms have propelled systematics and biogeography into key predictive positions in the biological sciences. Taxonomic predictions are regularly used throughout the biological sciences by plant breeders interested in choosing resistant germplasm, by ecologists studying disease evolution, and by plant pathologists interested in logical extensions of plant microbe interactions. The major justification for taxonomic research in agricultural sciences is its assumed ability to predict traits in a group for which the trait has been observed in a subset of the group. However, all demonstrations of the predictive component of taxonomy have been by examples of associations that happened to fit the model of prediction. The a-priori expected associations have never been tested empirically in a specifically designed experiment that treats non-associations as a null hypothesis. Moreover, these associations need to be compared to competing models that predict parallel evolution of selection pressure as inferred from biogeographical predictors. My laboratory and colleagues are testing the associations between disease resistances to the taxonomy of potato. Wild potatoes are widely distributed, well-characterized taxonomically and biogeographically, and well-represented in genebanks and provide opportunities for the first empirical tests of the well-accepted, but little tested, major paradigm of prediction in taxonomy and biogeography as it relates to pathogen and plant interactions.