Evaluation of a Core of the U.S. Capsicum Germplasm Collection for Reaction to the Northern 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

Several species of root-knot nematodes [Meloidogyne incognita (Kofoid & White) Chitwood, M. arenaria (Neal) Chitwood, M. javanica (Treub) Chitwood, and M. hapla Chitwood] are major pests of peppers (Capsicum spp.) in the United States and worldwide. Resistance to M. incognita, M. arenaria, and M. javanica has been identified in several Capsicum accessions, but there are few reports of resistance to M. hapla. Therefore, we selected a 10% core (440 accessions) of the 14 available Capsicum spp. in the Capsicum germplasm collection (3,731 accessions) maintained by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA), and evaluated this core for resistance to M. hapla in unreplicated greenhouse tests. The 11 best (most resistant) and the 3 worst (most susceptible) accessions identified in these unreplicated tests were re-evaluated in a replicated greenhouse test. Seven of these 11 “best” accessions (PI 357613, PI 357503, PI 439381, PI 297493, PI 430490, PI 267729, and PI 441676) exhibited root gall severity indices <5.0 (1 = no galls; 9 = more than 80% of the root system covered with galls) in the replicated test, and each of these indices was significantly lower than the indices of the “worst” accessions and susceptible controls. Although a gall index <5.0 indicates a moderate level of resistance, more than 3000 M. hapla eggs were extracted per gram of fresh root tissue and the reproductive index was >1.0 for each of these accessions. These observations suggest that the most resistant accessions tested are somewhat susceptible to M. hapla. The results of our evaluation of a core of the USDA Capsicum germplasm collection demonstrates clearly that there is significant genetic variability within the overall collection for M. hapla resistance. Additionally, these results identify portions of the collection where future evaluations for M. hapla resistance should be focused. For example, the origin of the two most promising C. annuum accessions (PI 357613 and PI 357503) in the core was Yugoslavia. Thus, additional accessions from this temperate region of the world should receive priority attention in any effort to identify better sources of resistance in C. annuum to M. hapla.

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