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Insect and pathogen attack and resistance in maize and its wild ancestors, the teosintes

Lange, Elvira S., Balmer, Dirk, Mauch‐Mani, Brigitte, Turlings, Ted C. J.
The new phytologist 2014 v.204 no.2 pp. 329-341
Zea mays subsp. mays, ancestry, antagonists, arthropods, biotic stress, corn, crops, germplasm, insects, microorganisms, pathogens, pests, resistance mechanisms, risk, Central America, Mexico
Maize (Zea mays ssp. mays) is one of the most important crops worldwide and there are many reports in the literature on its constitutive and inducible defenses against pathogens and insects. However, research on its wild ancestors, the teosintes, with respect to resistance against these antagonists is limited. Here, we review what is known about the different arthropods and microbes that are associated with maize and teosintes in Mexico and Central America, the area of origin, and evaluate the plants' mechanisms of resistance against biotic stresses. Teosintes appear to have greater resistance against a number of pests than their cultivated counterpart. We therefore highlight the need to study the teosintes in order to identify resistance traits that can be improved in maize. As teosintes are at risk of becoming extinct, there is a need to protect their germplasm for future generations.