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Effect of Puccinia silphii on Yield Components and Leaf Physiology in Silphium integrifolium: Lessons for the Domestication of a Perennial Oilseed Crop

Author: M. Kathryn Turner, Damian Ravetta, and David Van Tassel

Publication: Sustainability

Abstract: New crops with greater capacity for delivering ecosystem services are needed to increase agricultural sustainability. However, even in these crops, seed yield is usually the main criteria for grain domestication. This focus on yield can cause unintended structural and functional changes. Leaves of selected plants tend to be more vulnerable to infection, which can reduce performance, assimilates, and ultimately yield. Our objectives were to determine the impact of rust (caused by Puccinia silphii) on yield and leaf function in selected Silphium integrifolium (Asteraceae) plants. We tested the effect of a fungicide treatment on rust severity and yield, compared the rust infection of individuals in a population selected for yield, and related this to chemical changes at the leaf level. We also estimated heritability for rust resistance. We found that productivity indicators (head number and weight, leaf weight) and leaf processes (photosynthetic capacity, water use efficiency) were reduced when silphium leaves and stems were more heavily infected by P. silphii. Leaf resin content increased when susceptible plants were infected. Fungicide treatments were effective at reducing rust infection severity, but were ineffective at preventing yield losses. We propose that disease resistance should be included early in the selection process of new perennial crops.


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