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Dhan Pal Singh and Arti Singh, eds.
Enfield, New Hampshire
2005, 417 pp.
Disease and Insect Resistance in Plantsprovides a rich overview of host plant resistance and its application to crop and pest systems. It emphasizes conventional approaches, but it also covers modern techniques in assessing plant resistance, including cell and tissue culture and molecular genetics (mainly in Chapter 7). The book has a strong conceptual base that presents an excellent review of classical theories of host-parasite interaction, the gene-for-gene hypothesis, and vertical and horizontal resistance. Disease and Insect Resistance in Plants is also practical in its discussion of laboratory and field methods for identifying and developing resistant crop plants and in its attention to evaluation and eventual deployment of resistant plants.
The book draws concepts and examples from a wide range of crops and pests, but it focuses on certain field and vegetable crops, particularly rice, wheat, oat, potato, and tomato. Consequently, crop pests and pathogens such as brown planthopper, Hessian fly, greenbug, rusts, late blight, and powdery mildew often receive detailed discussion spanning several paragraphs or a few pages at a time. These examples recur frequently throughout the book. Treatment of other crop-pest examples is brief, sometimes limited to a single sentence.
Disease and Insect Resistance in Plantsis one of a few textbooks that covers resistance to both diseases and invertebrate pests. Several chapters effectively blend discussion of disease and invertebrate examples, especially in relation to the value of resistance (Chapter 1), resistance sources and testing methods (Chapter 5), conventional breeding methods (Chapter 6), and the stability and vulnerability of resistance (Chapter 8). However, discussion of disease versus invertebrate resistance is unevenly partitioned in other parts of the book. Chapters 2 (disease concepts) and 4 (genetics of host-parasite interaction) collectively devote 126 pages to discussion of disease resistance in plants, whereas Chapter 3 allots roughly 45 pages to plant resistance against arthropods and compiles examples of resistance to nematodes >5 pages that make up Table 3.12. Chapter 7 (unconventional breeding methods) devotes >11 pages to plant pathogens, but only 2 pages to nematodes and 1 page to arthropods.
In separating discussion of disease versus invertebrate resistance, Disease and Insect Resistance in Plants fails to link common threads of these subjects. For example, the gene-for-gene concept, originally developed to describe the relationship between virulence genes of fungal pathogens and disease-resistance genes in plants, has proven applicable in explaining interactions of host plants with other pathogens and with arthropod and nematode pests. The book could have pointed out that this concept applies to pathogen races and to arthropod biotypes. For example, Chapter 3 covers plant resistance in relation to virulence of arthropod biotypes, and Chapter 4 covers the gene-for-gene concept in the traditional manner with regard to virulence of plant pathogens. Unfortunately, the gene-for-gene concept is not mentioned explicitly in Chapter 3, except for a brief remark of studies that discount a "gene-for-gene relationship" between rice and the brown planthopper. Additionally, strict adherence to narrow interpretations of the gene-for-gene concept and its corollaries leave the reader with limited guidance on application of these principles to pathogens such as viroids or to plant defense systems based on structural modifications such as leaf trichomes in relation to arthropod resistance.
The book also missed a clear opportunity to discuss plant pathogen-vector-host interactions in relation to resistance breeding, and the strategies of developing resistance to vectors versus the pathogens they transmit. More discussion and examples of managing pathogen-vector systems by host plant resistance (e.g., resistance in wheat to the wheat curl mite for limiting Wheat streak mosaic virus) would have enhanced the book.
The abundant examples presented in Disease and Insect Resistance in Plants are supported by extensive references with a bibliography making up more than one sixth of the book. The authors fulfill their objective to revise and enlarge their 1986 book entitled Breeding for Resistance to Diseases and Insect Pests by emphasizing newer and recent techniques and by citing 500 new references. Nevertheless, older references and examples are retained; thus, the book supplies both classic and modern examples of resistance to pathogens and pests. Unfortunately, new references are not evenly distributed, but rather clustered among subject areas, as with Chapter 7's 88 post-1986 references. Despite these updates, this chapter still cites some references from the 1970s or early 1980s as "recent" examples. Sometimes new references are compiled in lengthy tables rather than being integrated into text, e.g., Table 3.12 and especially Table 4.1, which spans 40 pages in updating the inheritance of resistance to pathogens in various plant species since 1990. Some chapters (e.g., Chapter 6) contain sections devoid of updated references.
The book generally reads well, but editorial deficiencies are apparent. The text contains many punctuation errors and misspellings. Intermittent use of one- or two-sentence paragraphs produces staccato text and a catalog-like list of examples of pathogen and invertebrate pests. Some lengthy paragraphs lack topic sentences, and there is occasionally poor transition between paragraphs. Sections and especially chapters have abrupt endings that lack bridging to material that follows. Text could have been tightened to improve readability. The font is small and straining to read. Many areas would have benefited from pictures, drawings, or other illustrations.
Disease and Insect Resistance to Plants, despite the shortcomings noted, contains a comprehensive treatment of fundamental principles associated with host plant resistance, and it cites many classic examples of breeding crop plants for resistance. The summary on the back cover states that the book is intended as an advanced text for readers with basic knowledge of plant pathogens, insect pests, and genetics, and as a reference book for plant pathologists, entomologists and geneticists developing resistant germplasm. The usefulness of the book as a text varies among the chapters and is limited by lack of more modern examples, need for better illustrations, and lack of conceptual synthesis. However, given its detailed discussion of concepts and the wealth of examples with supporting citations, Disease and Insect Resistance in Plants is a useful reference that deserves to be on the bookshelves of instructors and researchers involved with host plant resistance to pathogens and pests.
Louis S. Hesler and
North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory
USDA-ARS, Brookings, SD 57006
Marie A. C. Langha
Plant Science Department
South Dakota State University
Brookings, SD 57007
Journal of Economic Entomology
Vol. 100, No. 4, August 2007