Lettuce drop caused by Sclerotinia minor is a damaging disease of romaine lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) production in California. Introgression of partial resistance from wild, primitive, or heirloom accessions into modern cultivars could improve integrated management approaches to the disease. Breeding methods for lettuce drop resistance are not well developed and hinder the development of new lettuce drop–resistant cultivars. The objective of this work was to develop a pedigree-based breeding method for introgression of lettuce drop resistance into modern romaine germplasm. Progeny from crosses between the partially resistant cultivar Eruption and the susceptible romaine cultivars Darkland and Hearts Delight were selected in a modified pedigree breeding scheme. Families were evaluated for disease incidence and selected for lettuce drop resistance in artificially infested field experiments conducted in the summer and fall. Infected plants of partially resistant lines commonly do not produce seed, and therefore selection of resistant plants from infested nurseries is not possible. Noninfested field experiments were used to select individual plants with improved horticultural characteristics for seed production, but from within resistant families only. Evaluation and selection of progeny using this breeding scheme occurred from the F2:3 through the F5:6 generations. In all generations, superior resistance was identified in the ‘Eruption’ × romaine crosses. The breeding scheme generated eight green romaine-type inbred lines with better resistance than the romaine parent and better head weight than ‘Eruption’. Use of the new romaine lines as parents in backcrosses to romaine produced F2:3 families with high levels of resistance. The pedigree method used in this research can be implemented with any source of resistance, but is constrained by the use of family selection and the inability to select individual plants for resistance directly. Breeding schemes that use single seed descent or molecular markers are alternative approaches that would enable selection for resistance on individual genotypes.
Baby leaf lettuce cultivars with resistance to bacterial leaf spot (BLS) caused by Xanthomonas campestris pv. vitians (Xcv) are needed to reduce crop losses. The objectives of this research were to assess the genetic diversity for BLS resistance in baby leaf lettuce cultivars and to select early generation populations of lettuce with BLS resistance. Greenhouse experiments using artificial Xcv inoculations were conducted to assess BLS resistance in 35 cultivars of 10 lettuce types used in baby leaf production and in F2 through F3:4 progeny from ‘Batavia Reine des Glaces’ (BLS-resistant, green leaf color) × ‘Eruption’ (BLS-susceptible, red leaf color). Higher disease severity was identified in red leaf and red romaine cultivars compared with other types, indicating the need to target these types for resistance breeding. Selection for BLS resistance and red-colored leaves was therefore conducted among 486 F2 plants, 38 F2:3 families, and two populations of F3:4 families from ‘Batavia Reine des Glaces’ × ‘Eruption’. Two populations were identified with uniform levels of BLS resistance equivalent to ‘Batavia Reine des Glaces’ and variable leaf morphology and color. These populations can be used by private and publicly employed lettuce breeders to select for diverse types of lettuce cultivars suitable for baby leaf production and with BLS resistance.