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J.C. Cervantes, D.L. Davis and G.C. Yencho

This study was conducted to determine whether the type of pot used for the evaluation affected the resistance response of the sweetpotato plants, and to assess the resistance response to different root-knot nematode species. Five sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam] cultivars, `Beauregard', `Exce'l, `Jewel', `Hernandez', and `Porto Rico', were screened for M. incognita (race 3), Meloidogyne arenaria (race 2), and M. javanica, in both 10-cm-side, square pots and 4-cm-diameter, cone pots. Gall index, necrosis index, and number of nematode eggs per gram of root were used to estimate nematode-resistance reaction. Mean of all indices between the 2 pot types were not significantly different (α = 0.05). Gall and necrosis indices were not correlated in any of the cultivars. Resistance response depended on cultivars and nematode species for all variables analyzed. `Beauregard' was the most susceptible to Meloidogyne. `Hernandez' and `Excel' were found to be the most resistant cultivars to the Meloidogyne species.

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J.C. Cervantes-Flores, G.C. Yencho and E.L. Davis

Five sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] cultivars (`Beauregard', `Excel', `Jewel', `Hernandez', and `Porto Rico') were evaluated for resistance to three root-knot nematode species: Meloidogyne arenaria (Neal) Chitwood (race 2), M. incognita (Kofoid & White) Chitwood (race 3), and M. javanica (Treub) Chitwood. Resistance screening efficiency was assessed in both 400-cm3 square pots and 150-cm3 Conetainers™. Nematode infection was assessed as the percentage of root system galled, percentage of root system necrosis, and the number of nematode eggs produced per gram of root tissue. Means of these dependent variables were not different (P ≤ 0.05) between container types, with Conetainers™ being more efficient to use. Root necrosis was not related to nematode infection, but was significant among cultivars (P = 0.0005). The resistance responses of the cultivars differed depending on the nematode species. All five cultivars were resistant to M. arenaria race 2. `Hernandez', `Excel', and `Jewel' were also resistant to M. incognita race 3 and M. javanica.

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J.C. Cervantes-Flores, G.C. Yencho and E.L. Davis

Sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] genotypes were evaluated for resistance to North Carolina root-knot nematode populations: Meloidogyne arenaria (Neal) Chitwood races 1 and 2; M. incognita (Kofoid & White) Chitwood races 1, 2, 3, and 4; and M. javanica (Treub) Chitwood. Resistance screening was conducted using 150-cm3 Conetainers containing 3 sand: 1 soil mix. Nematode infection and reproduction were assessed as the number of egg masses produced by root-knot nematodes per root system. Host suitability for the root-knot nematode populations differed among the 27 sweetpotato genotypes studied. Five genotypes (`Beauregard', L86-33, PDM P6, `Porto Rico', and `Pelican Processor') were selected for further study based on their differential reaction to the different root-knot nematodes tested. Two African landraces (`Tanzania' and `Wagabolige') were also selected because they were resistant to all the nematode species tested. The host status was tested against the four original M. incognita races, and an additional eight populations belonging to four host races, but collected from different geographical regions. The virulence of root-knot nematode populations of the same host race varied among and within sweetpotato genotypes. `Beauregard', L86-33, and PDM P6 were hosts for all 12 M. incognita populations, but differences in the aggressiveness of the isolates were observed. `Porto Rico' and `Pelican Processor' had different reactions to the M. incognita populations, regardless of the host race. Several clones showed resistance to all M. incognita populations tested. These responses suggest that different genes could be involved in the resistance of sweetpotato to root-knot nematodes. The results also suggest that testing Meloidogyne populations against several different sweetpotato hosts may be useful in determining the pathotypes affecting sweetpotato.

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Lucia E. Villavicencio, Sylvia M. Blankenship, G. Craig Yencho, Judith F. Thomas and C. David Raper

Sweetpotatoes [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] often experience significant epidermal loss during harvest and postharvest handling. Skin loss causes weight loss, shriveling of the root surface, and increased susceptibility to pathogen attack as well as poor appearance. It is not known if sweetpotatoes show variation in skin adhesion, cell wall enzyme activity and components, and growth parameters with growth temperature or if skin loss can be explained on the basis of variation among these variables. Skin adhesion, polygalacturonase (PG) and pectin methylesterase (PME) activity, lignin, anthocyanin, and dry matter content were measured in the periderm of ‘Beauregard’ roots grown at various temperatures under controlled conditions. Biomass dry matter content, storage root yield, root length, diameter, and weight at harvest were recorded. Histochemical and anatomical characteristics of periderm of roots were studied. Growth temperature affected skin adhesion, PG and PME activity, periderm and biomass dry matter content, yield, storage root weight, and diameter. High temperatures (34/31 °C day/night) yielded roots that were smaller and more resistant to skin loss. These roots had a periderm composed of more cell layers with a lower dry matter content than roots grown at lower and intermediate temperatures (27/24 °C and 20/17 °C). In cured roots, the correlation between skin adhesion and PG activity was negative (r = 0.544, P = 0.0006) and positive between skin adhesion and PME (r = 0.319, P = 0.05). For most of the variables studied, the interaction between growing temperature and curing was significant. Curing improved skin adhesion, but the effect of curing was dependent on the root growth temperature. The periderm of roots grown at higher temperatures was thicker and had more layers than that of roots grown at lower temperatures. Histochemical studies of the periderm of sweetpotato showed that the anatomical and structural composition of the cell walls differ depending on growth temperature.

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Jim C. Cervantes-Flores, G. Craig Yencho, Kenneth V. Pecota, Bryon Sosinski and Robert O.M. Mwanga

Resistance to root-knot nematodes [Meloidogyne incognita (Kofoid & White) Chitwood] in sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] was studied in a mapping population consisting of 240 progeny derived from a cross between ‘Beauregard’, the predominant cultivar in the United States, and ‘Tanzania’, an African landrace. Quantitative trait loci (QTL) analyses to locate markers associated with resistance to root-knot nematodes (RKN) were performed using genetic maps based on parental segregation in ‘Beauregard’ and ‘Tanzania’ consisting of 726 and 947 single-dose amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers, respectively. RKN resistance in the progeny was highly skewed with most of the progeny exhibiting medium to high levels of resistance. Single-point analysis of variance and interval mapping revealed seven consistently significant QTL in ‘Tanzania’ and two significant QTL in ‘Beauregard’. In ‘Tanzania’, three QTL were associated with reduction in resistance as measured by the number of RKN egg masses and explained ≈20% of the variation. Another four QTL had positive effects on resistance and explained ≈21% of the variation. Other minor QTL explained ≈2% or less of the variation but were not always consistent across geographical locations. In ‘Beauregard’, two QTL had positive effects on RKN resistance and explained ≈6% of the observed variation. Based on molecular and phenotypic data, RKN resistance in sweetpotato is hypothesized to be conferred by several genes, but at least nine AFLP markers (seven from ‘Tanzania’ and two from ‘Beauregard’) are associated with genomic regions that have the biggest effect in the number of egg masses of RKN produced in the root system.

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A.D. Bryan, J.R. Schultheis, Z. Pesic-VanEsbroeck and G.C. Yencho

To determine the effects of Sweet potato feathery mottle virus (SPFMV), and possibly other newly described potyviruses, on sweetpotato yield and storage root appearance, virus-indexed `Beauregard' and `Hernandez' mericlones testing free of known viruses were compared with virus-infected mericlones in two separate experiments over two years. The experiments were arranged in a split-plot, randomized, complete-block design with the initial presence (VI+) or absence (VI-) of SPFMV as the whole plot factor and mericlone as the subplot factor. Plants were monitored weekly for symptoms of SPFMV and vine samples were taken for virus-indexing on Ipomoea setosa. Additional testing for selected sweetpotato viruses was done using a nitrocellulose membrane enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay. SPFMV was the only virus detected in the study, using available testing methodologies. Field monitoring indicated that §100% of the VI-plants were reinfected with SPFMV by 9 weeks after planting. The presence of virus before planting reduced yields of No. 1 roots by 26% and decreased overall appearance ratings for the three `Beauregard' mericlones. In addition, VI+ planting materials resulted in increased storage root length and reduced storage root width of both cultivars leading to increased storage root length/diameter ratios, further detracting from overall storage root appearance. The results of this study demonstrate that SPFMV contributes to cultivar decline in sweetpotato. However, the interaction of SPFMV with other newly described potyviruses, which may result in synergistic negative effects on sweetpotato yield and quality, needs further research.

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R.O.M. Mwanga, A. Kriegner, J.C. Cervantes-Flores, D.P. Zhang, J.W. Moyer and G.C. Yencho

When sweetpotato chlorotic stunt crinivirus (SPCSV) and sweetpotato feathery mottle potyvirus (SPFMV) infect sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.], they interact synergistically and cause sweetpotato virus disease (SPVD), a major constraint to food productivity in east Africa. The genetic basis of resistance to these diseases was investigated in 15 sweetpotato diallel families (1352 genotypes) in Uganda, and in two families of the same diallel at the International Potato Center (CIP), Lima, Peru. Graft inoculation with SPCSV and SPFMV resulted in severe SPVD symptoms in all the families in Uganda. The distribution of SPVD scores was skewed toward highly susceptible categories (SPVD scores 4 and 5), eliminating almost all the resistant genotypes (scores 1 and 2). Likewise, when two promising diallel families (`Tanzania' × `Bikilamaliya' and `Tanzania' × `Wagabolige') were graft inoculated with SPCSV and SPFMV at CIP, severe SPVD was observed in most of the progenies. Individual inoculation of these two families with SPCSV or SPFMV, and Mendelian segregation analysis for resistant vs. susceptible categories led us to hypothesize that resistance to SPCSV and SPFMV was conditioned by two separate recessive genes inherited in a hexasomic or tetradisomic manner. Subsequent molecular marker studies yielded two genetic markers associated with resistance to SPCSV and SPFMV. The AFLP and RAPD markers linked to SPCSV and SPFMV resistance explained 70% and 72% of the variation in resistance, respectively. We propose naming these genes as spcsv1 and spfmv1. Our results also suggest that, in the presence of both of these viruses, additional genes mediate oligogenic or multigenic horizontal (quantitative) effects in the progenies studied for resistance to SPVD.

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A.D. Bryan, Z. Pesic-VanEsbroeck, J.R. Schultheis, K.V. Pecota, W.H. Swallow and G.C. Yencho

Decline in sweetpotato yield and storage root quality has been attributed to the accumulation of viruses, pathogens and mutations. To document the effects of decline on yield and storage root quality, two micropropagated, virus-indexed, greenhouse produced G1 `Beauregard' meristem-tip cultured clones, B94-14 and B94-34, were compared with 1) micropropagated B94-14 and B94-34 clones propagated adventitiously up to five years in the field (G2, G3, G4, G5); and 2) nonmicropropagated, unimproved stock of `Beauregard' seed in field trials during 1997 to 2001. At least three trials were located each year in sweetpotato producing regions in North Carolina. In 2000 and 2001, two trials were monitored weekly for foliar symptoms of Sweet potato feathery mottle virus (SPFMV) and other potyviruses, and virus-indexed for selected viruses using Ipomoea setosa and nitrocellulose enzyme linked immunosorbant assays (NCM-ELISA). Only SPFMV was detected in field samples using NCM-ELISA, but this does not rule out the presence of newly described viruses infecting sweetpotato for which tests were unavailable. Monitoring indicated that all G1 plants became infected with SPFMV by the end of the growing season, and that G2 to G5 plants were probably infected in their initial growing season. G1 plants consistently produced higher total yield, total marketable yield (TMY), U.S. No. 1 root yield and percent No. 1 yield than G2 to G5 plants. G1 plants also produced storage roots with more uniform shapes and better overall appearance than storage roots produced from G2 to G5 plants. Also, G2 to G5 storage roots tended to be longer than G1 storage roots. Rank mean yield and storage root quality measurements of each location were consistent with means averaged over locations per year and suggested a decrease in yield and storage root quality with successive seasons of adventitious propagation. Linear regression analysis used to model yield and storage root quality measurements of seed generations G1 to G5 indicated that total yield, TMY, No. 1 yield, percent No. 1 yield, shape uniformity, and overall appearance decreased gradually, and that length/diameter ratios increased gradually with generation. The rate of decline in No. 1 yield was greater for B94-34 compared to B94-14. Both viruses and mutations of adventitious sprouts arising from storage roots probably contribute to cultivar decline in sweetpotato, but further studies are needed to determine their relative importance. A simple profitability analysis for G1 vs. G2-G4 planting material conducted to facilitate better understanding of the economics of using micropropagated planting material to produce a crop in North Carolina revealed that growers have a potential net return of $2203/ha for G1 plants, $5030/ha for G2 plants, and $4394/ha for G5 plants. Thus, while G1 plants generally produce higher No. 1 yields, a greater monetary return can be achieved using G2 planting materials because of the high costs associated with producing G1 plants. Based on this analysis, the best returns are accrued when growers plant their crop using G2 and/or G3 seed.

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R.O.M. Mwanga, B. Odongo, G. Turyamureeba, A. Alajo, G.C. Yencho, R.W. Gibson, N.E.J.M. Smit and E.E. Carey

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G. Craig Yencho, Kenneth V. Pecota, Jonathan R. Schultheis, Zvezdana-Pesic VanEsbroeck, Gerald J. Holmes, Billy E. Little, Allan C. Thornton and Van-Den Truong

‘Covington’ is an orange-fleshed, smooth-skinned, rose-colored, table-stock sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] developed by North Carolina State University (NCSU). ‘Covington’, named after the late Henry M. Covington, an esteemed sweetpotato scientist at North Carolina State, was evaluated as NC98-608 in multiple state and regional yield trials during 2001 to 2006. ‘Covington’ produces yields equal to ‘Beauregard’, a dominant sweetpotato variety produced in the United States, but it is typically 5 to 10 days later in maturity. ‘Covington’ typically sizes its storage roots more evenly than ‘Beauregard’ resulting in fewer jumbo class roots and a higher percentage of number one roots. Total yields are similar for the two clones with the dry matter content of ‘Covington’ storage roots typically being 1 to 2 points higher than that of ‘Beauregard’. ‘Covington’ is resistant to fusarium wilt [Fusarium oxysporum Schlect. f.sp. batatas (Wollenw.) Snyd. & Hans.], southern root-knot nematode [Meloidogyne incognita (Kofoid & White 1919) Chitwood 1949 race 3], and moderately resistant to streptomyces soil rot [Streptomyces ipomoeae (Person & W.J. Martin) Wakswan & Henrici]. Symptoms of the russet crack strain of Sweet Potato Feathery Mottle Virus have not been observed in ‘Covington’. The flavor of the baked storage roots of ‘Covington’ has been rated as very good by standardized and informal taste panels and typically scores as well or better in this regard when compared with ‘Beauregard’.