This review takes an evolutionary view of breeding crops for durable resistance to disease. An understanding of coevolution between hosts and parasites leads to predictors of potentially durable resistance, such as corresponding virulence having a high fitness cost to the pathogen or resistance being common in natural populations. High partial resistance can also promote durability. Whether or not resistance is actually durable, however, depends on ecological and epidemiological processes that stabilize genetic polymorphism, many of which are absent from intensive agriculture. There continues to be no biological, genetic, or economic model for durable resistance. The analogy between plant breeding and natural selection indicates that the basic requirements are genetic variation in potentially durable resistance, effective and consistent selection for resistance, and an efficient breeding process in which trials of disease resistance are integrated with other traits. Knowledge about genetics and mechanisms can support breeding for durable resistance once these fundamentals are in place.


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