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  • Author or Editor: William Nesmith x
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Virus and fungal disease pressures limit fall production of summer squash (Cucurbita pepo L.) in Kentucky. Twenty-five summer squash cultivars (nine zucchini, eight yellow straightneck, and eight yellow crookneck entries) were evaluated for marketable yield, appearance, and disease resistance in a late summer planting. Genetically engineered virus-resistant materials and new conventionally bred resistant or tolerant cultivars were compared with popular susceptible hybrids. Virus incidence was determined visually before and after final harvest and was also determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Watermelon mosaic virus (WMV) was most frequently detected and appeared to have caused most of the observed symptoms. Conventionally bred cultivars containing the precocious yellow gene and two transgenic lines were in the highest yielding group of yellow straightneck squash despite high virus incidence in precocious yellow cultivars. Among yellow crooknecks, transgenic cultivars were clearly superior for disease resistance and yields. Conventionally bred cultivars with virus tolerance were among the highest yielding zucchini types. Most transgenics were superior to their nontransformed equivalent cultivars for virus resistance and yield. Cultivars and breeding lines varied considerably in color, shape, and overall appearance. ELISA results revealed that some (but not all) transgenic cultivars tested positive for the coat protein corresponding to the virus resistance present in that cultivar. Also, mild virus-like symptoms were observed in transgenic squash plants after the conclusion of harvest.

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Bacterial spot epidemics, caused by Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria (Doidge) Dye, continue to plague bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) growers in a number of southern and midwestern states. A 3-year study designed to compare cultivars and breeding lines under induced bacterial spot epidemic and bacterial spot-free conditions began soon after the first release of cultivars having the Bs2 gene for resistance to races 1 to 3 of the pathogen. Bacterial spot epidemics were created by transplanting `Merlin' plants (inoculated with races 1 to 3) into plots of each test cultivar at an isolated location in eastern Kentucky. Plots of the same trial entries at a second location were kept free of bacterial spot for 2 of the 3 years of trials; however, a moderate natural epidemic occurred at this location in 1996. Bacterial spot resistance had the greatest impact on yields and returns per acre in the inoculated trials. Cultivars with only Bs1 or a combination of Bs1 and Bs3 were highly susceptible in the inoculated trials. There were statistically significant and economically important differences in resistance among cultivars and breeding lines having the Bs2 gene; some were nearly as susceptible as susceptible checks. Although many Bs2-gene cultivars showed satisfactory levels of resistance, only a few were highly resistant, horticulturally acceptable, and comparable in yields to the best susceptible hybrids in a bacterial spot-free environment.

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Bacterial spot epidemics, caused by Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria (Xcv), are still considered serious risks for commercial pepper (Capsicum annuum) growers in a number of eastern, southern and midwestern states. Newly released bell pepper cultivars with the Bs2 gene for resistance to Xcv races 1, 2, and 3 were compared in 2000 under bacterial spot-free and severe (natural) bacterial spot epidemic conditions in central and eastern Kentucky where similar trials had been conducted from 1995 to 1997. In addition to the replicated bell pepper trials, 49 hot and specialty pepper cultivars were grown for observation in single plots at the same two locations. As in previous trials, there were economically important differences in resistance and marketable yields among bell pepper cultivars having the Bs2 gene; some resistant cultivars were as susceptible as susceptible checks. Others were highly resistant in spite of the presence of Xcv races 3 and 6 in the eastern Kentucky trial. Only a few were highly resistant with excellent fruit quality. With a few notable exceptions, most of the hot and specialty cultivars were very susceptible to bacterial spot. Two of the three new jalapeño cultivars carrying Bs2 were highly resistant to bacterial spot and high yielding under severe epidemic conditions.

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