Heterozygote deficits in cyst plant-parasitic nematodes: possible causes and consequences

Josselin Montarry, Jan Pierre-Loup, Cecile Gracianne, Andrew Overall, Sylvie Bardou-Valette, Eric Olivier, Sylvain Fournet, Eric Grenier, Eric J. Petit

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Deviations of genotypic frequencies from Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium (HWE) expectations could reveal important aspects of the biology of populations. Deviations from HWE due to heterozygote deficits have been recorded for three plant-parasitic nematode species. However, it has never been determined whether the observed deficits were due (i) to the presence of null alleles, (ii) to a high level of consanguinity and/or (iii) to a Wahlund effect. The aim of the present work was, while taking into the possible confounding effect of null alleles, to disentangle consanguinity and Wahlund effect in natural populations of those three economically important cyst nematodes using microsatellite markers:Globodera pallida,G.tabacumandHeterodera schachtii, pests of potato, tobacco and sugar beet, respectively. The results show a consistent pattern of heterozygote deficiency in the three nematode species sampled at the spatial scale of the host plant. We demonstrate that the prevalence of null alleles is weak and that heterozygote deficits do not have a single origin. Our results suggested that it is restricted dispersal that leads to heterozygote deficits through both consanguinity and substructure, which effects can be linked to soil movement, cyst density, and the number of generations per year. We discuss potential implications for the durability of plant resistances that are used to protect crops against parasites in which mating between relatives occur. While consanguineous mating leads to homozygosity at all loci, including loci governing avirulence/virulence, which favours the expression of virulence when recessive, the Wahlund effect is expected to have no particular effect on the adaptation of nematodes to resistances.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1654-1677
Number of pages24
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2015


  • consanguinity
  • heterozygote deficit
  • microsatellite
  • nematode
  • null allele
  • Wahlund effect


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