Twenty-two sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.) breeding lines and 19 open-pollinated offspring from each were used to estimate the heritabilities of 7 measures of soil insect injury. Four measures of injury by the wireworm, Diabrotica spp., and Systena spp. (WDS) complex and h2 (± SE) were: percentage of roots injured, 0.45 ± 0.12; holes per root, 0.32 ± 0.09; severity index, 0.37 ±0.11; and damage score, 0.39 ± 0.17. Two measures of injury by the sweetpotato flea beetle, Chaetocnema confinis Crotch, and h2 were: percentage of roots injured, 0.40 ± 0.07, and tunnels per root, 0.25 ± 0.08. The h2 of percentage of roots injured by all insects was 0.51 ± 0.12. The percentage measures were more easily obtained and were as effective as the other measures under the conditions of natural infestation that occurred in this test. Further advances in selection for high levels of resistance to soil insects are possible within the breeding materials tested.
Received for publication January 20, 1979.
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Research Geneticist, Research Entomologist, and Research Plant Pathologist, respectively. The authors acknowledge the assistance of B. W. Davis, Agricultural Research Technician, in the collection and analysis of insect injury data.