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Eduardo D. Munaiz and Michael J. Havey

Onion (Allium cepa) plants with lower amounts of epicuticular waxes on foliage suffer less damage from the insect pest Thrips tabaci (onion thrips). Glossy onion accumulates significantly less epicuticular wax compared with wild-type “waxy” onion, and a single recessive locus (gl) has been proposed to condition this phenotype. Genetic analyses of types and amounts of epicuticular waxes were completed using two segregating families from the cross of the glossy inbreds B9885 and B9897 (both originally selected from the onion cultivar White Persian) with waxy inbred B8667 and semiglossy (intermediate amounts of waxes) inbred B5351, respectively. F2 progenies were grown in greenhouses and scored visually for foliar phenotypes, and amounts and types of epicuticular waxes were determined using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GCMS). For one F2 family from the cross of glossy B9885 by waxy B8667, visually scored glossy vs. waxy foliage fit a 1:3 ratio and the phenotype mapped to chromosome 8 of onion. This same region on chromosome 8 was significantly associated with amounts of the ketone hentriacontanone-16 (H16) and fatty alcohols 1-octacosanol (Oct1) and 1-triacontanol (Tri1). Visually scored F2 progeny from the cross of glossy B9897 × semiglossy B5351 did not fit expected models for one or two recessive loci. Significant quantitative trait loci (QTL) were revealed on chromosomes 5 and 8 controlling amounts of H16. Epistasis was detected between regions on chromosomes 1 and 8, and a 100-fold increase of H16 was conditioned by homozygous genotypes for the B5351 region on chromosome 1 and the B9885 region on chromosome 8. The three QTL model explained 41% of the phenotypic variation for amounts of H16 at logarithm of odds of 16.6. Amounts of Oct1 and Tri1 in the B9897 × B5351 family were associated with a major QTL on chromosome 1, explaining 37% to 46% of the phenotypic variation, respectively. This research demonstrates that glossy foliage of ‘White Persian’ onion is conditioned by a recessive locus on chromosome 8 for which we propose the name gl wp. These results are important for selection of onion with unique profiles of epicuticular waxes to reduce losses resulting from onion thrips.

Open access

Eduardo D. Munaiz, Russell L. Groves, and Michael J. Havey

Onion thrips (Thrips tabaci) is the main insect pest of onion (Allium cepa), and feeding damage routinely causes serious yield losses. Lower amounts of epicuticular waxes on onion leaves have been associated with fewer onion thrips and less feeding damage, and research is needed to assess the relationships between amounts and composition of epicuticular waxes and feeding damage by onion thrips. This study used gas chromatography mass spectroscopy to determine amounts and types of epicuticular waxes on the foliage of onion accessions that had been field-selected for lower damage from onion thrips. Hentriacontanone-16 (H16), octaconasol-1, and triacontanol-1 were the most prevalent waxes on the foliage of these selections. Amounts of H16 were significantly lower on selections visually classified as having glossy or semiglossy foliage. Semiglossy selections were identified with similar amounts of total epicuticular wax as waxy phenotypes, due primarily to lower amounts of H16 and higher amounts of other waxes. These semiglossy selections suffered significantly less feeding damage from onion thrips in a field evaluation, supporting the identification of unique wax profiles toward the development of thrips-resistant onion.