Evaluation of Capsicum chinense Jacq. Cultigens for Resistance to the Southern Root-knot Nematode

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  • 1 U.S. Vegetable Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2875 Savannah Highway, Charleston, SC 29414-5334

Scotch Bonnet and Habanero peppers, extremely pungent cultivar classes of Capsicum chinense Jacq., are increasing in popularity in the United States. Because the southern root-knot nematode, Meloidogyne incognita (Kofoid & White) Chitwood, is a major pest of many C. annuum cultivars, a series of greenhouse and field experiments was conducted to determine if Scotch Bonnet and Habanero peppers from available commercial and private sources also are vulnerable to the pest. In an initial greenhouse test, a collection of 59 C. chinense cultigens was evaluated for reaction to M. incognita race 3. All cultigens obtained from commercial sources were moderately susceptible or susceptible. However, four accessions obtained through Seed Savers Exchange listings exhibited high levels of resistance. Three of these cultigens (PA-353, PA-398, and PA-426) were studied in subsequent greenhouse and field plantings, and each was confirmed to have a level of resistance similar to that available in C. annuum. All three of the resistant cultigens are well-adapted and each is potentially useful in commercial production without further development. None of the Habanero cultigens was resistant to the southern root-knot nematode. The resistant Scotch Bonnet cultigens may serve as sources of resistance for development of root-knot nematode—resistant Habanero peppers.

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