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  • Author or Editor: Periasamy Chitrampalam x
  • HortScience x
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Lettuce drop caused by Sclerotinia spp. is an economically important disease of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.), and cultivars with resistance to mycelial infection by Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (Lib.) de Bary and S. minor Jagger as well as to S. sclerotiorum ascospores are needed. Assessing resistance in field experiments can be complicated by fast bolting or small stature lettuce lines that may escape rather than resist the pathogens. Therefore, methods to select resistant lines from morphologically variable populations are needed. We used S. sclerotiorum and S. minor-infested field experiments, regression analysis, field experiments with artificially high plant densities, and S. sclerotiorum ascospore inoculations to identify lettuce lines with resistance to both pathogens. Three replicated experiments in S. sclerotiorum-infested fields were conducted in Yuma, AZ, and three replicated experiments in a S. minor-infested field were conducted in Salinas, CA, using diverse populations of iceberg, romaine, leaf, butterhead, Latin, oilseed lettuce, and wild relatives of lettuces; and genetic variation for the incidence of lettuce drop from mycelial infections was identified. In two S. minor field experiments, a quadratic regression model was developed that related rapid bolting with reduced lettuce drop. Regression residuals were calculated, and eight cultivars or PIs had negative residuals in two independent field experiments, indicating higher resistance than predicted by their rate of bolting. Eruption, a small-statured Latin cultivar, had significantly lower disease levels than susceptible cultivars in experiments with high plant densities, indicating that its small size did not facilitate disease escape. Ascospore inoculations confirmed resistance in ‘Eruption’ and L. virosa SAL012, whereas the oilseed lettuce PI 251246 may have partial resistance to infection. These lines will likely be useful for development of Sclerotinia spp.-resistant lettuce cultivars.

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