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John C. Snyder

Breeding for resistance to insects and other arthropod pests in vegetables has been a difficult endeavor. Greater public awareness of health and environmental issues requires that we as horticultural scientists reexamine why breeding for resistance has been difficult. The literature clearly suggests the potential for a genetic solution, and the literature also reveals some reasons why achievement of genetic resistance to arthropod pests has not been as successful as the achievement of resistance to pathogens. The thesis of my presentation is that the complexity of plant-arthropod interactions often prevents simple genetic approaches to breeding for resistance. Data using Lycopersicon hirsutum and its interaction with spider mites will provide examples of the these complex interactions. L. hirsutum is a wild relative of L. esculentum, the common tomato, and is nearly immune to insect attack. However, there are few or no clear examples of this taxa contributing to the insect resistance of tomato. The complexity of the interaction between mites and trichomes on L. hirsutum will be highlighted as it pertains to environment and genetics of the plant, and the development of the arthropod.

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Brent Rowell and John C. Snyder

“We are a tobacco state” is frequently heard among farmers and agricultural leaders in Kentucky; the state's farm economy has always revolved around burley tobacco production. Tobacco, grown in Kentucky for nearly two centuries, remains the most valuable crop earning approximately $694 million in 1995. Even our unusual terminology of “alternative,” “supplemental,” or “opportunity” crops denotes the prime position of tobacco and attitudes toward vegetable crop production. This long tradition and attitudes associated with it contribute to a serious lack of confidence and low expectations when it comes to diversification with vegetable crops. These low expectations and the consequent circular pattern of experience with vegetable production were revealed in a multidisciplinary, 5-year research project designed to determine opportunities for and constraints to vegetable production in the state. The study showed that nearly half of Kentucky's commercial vegetable growers also were tobacco growers and that there were no fundamental incompatibilities in tobacco–vegetable cropping systems. Although farmers considered lack of markets a major constraint, economic research revealed that growers were often unwilling to use and take the risks associated with existing market structures and channels. As a result of these findings, a major on-farm demonstration program was implemented to raise expectations and break the “circular syndrome”. More recently, new partnerships and collaborative relationships have been established between university horticulture and marketing specialists and the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association for the promotion of “supplemental crops” among Kentucky's tobacco growers.

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Zhenhua Guo and John C. Snyder

Choice and non-choice bioassays were used to examine deterrence in vitro and in vivo of Tetranychus urticae Koch. In vivo deterrence of leaflets from 11 Lycopersicon hirsutum accessions as well as the tomato cultivar `Ace 55' was measured as was in vitro deterrence of their leaf hexane extracts. Leaf surface chemistry was examined by gas chromatography. All 6 accessions of L. hirsutum f. hirsutum contained sesquiterpene hydrocarbons. Each of these extracts also contained one or a few late eluting components. All were deterrent in vitro and 5 out of the 6 were deterrent in vivo. The one lacking in vivo deterrence had low density of type IV trichomes. All 5 accessions of L. hirsutum f. glabratum contained methyl ketones. These accessions were less deterrent in vitro and 4 out of the 5, less deterrent in vivo. The one accession having high in vivo deterrence also had high density of type IV trichomes. `Ace 55', having few hexane extractable compounds was neither deterrent in vitro nor in vivo. Within an accession, secretions from different types of trichomes shared similar chemical profiles and were similar to leaf profiles.

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John C. Snyder, George Antonious and Richard Thacker

Many accessions of Lycopersicon hirsutum are highly resistant to insects. Trichomes and their secretions have been extensively indicated as factors of resistance. One mechanism of resistance mediated by secretions is repellency, a mechanism that is consistent with the observation that few insects visit plants of L. hirsutum. Trichome secretions from certain accessions of L. hirsutum f. typicum are repellent to spider mites. However, the composition of secretions from different accessions of f. typicum are chemically diverse. Sesquiterpene hydrocarbons are prevalent in secretions, but are structurally diverse. How structure may relate to repellency is of interest but difficult to address because isolation of pure sesquiterpene hydrocarbons from hydrocarbon mixtures is difficult. To begin examining relationships between structure and activity we determined how chain length of n-alkanes related to repellency of spider mites. n-Alkanes having chain lengths from 8 to 22 carbon atoms were assayed for repellency. The C16-C18 alkanes were most repellent. Smaller and larger hydrocarbons were less repellent. The EC50 for n-hexadecane was equal to that of the most repellent natural products we have isolated from trichome secretions of L. hirsutum.

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Brent Rowell, William Nesmith and John C. Snyder

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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Brent Rowell, R. Terry Jones, William Nesmith and John C. Snyder

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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George F. Antonious, Matthew E. Byers, John C. Snyder and Douglas L. Dahlman

The development and deployment of crop varieties that resist or tolerate insect attack is one tactic of pest management that can eliminate one or more spray applications per season, a significant savings to the grower. Seven tomato, Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. cultivars (Marmand, Edkawy, VF-145, GS-27, Pakmore-B, Flordade, and UCX) were evaluated under greenhouse conditions for differences in mortality and feeding behavior (leaf-area ingested) of the 4th instar larvae of Spodoptera littoralis (Boisd) and the Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Say). The most resistant cultivars to S. littoralis during two summer seasons, 1990 and 1991, were Edkawy and UCX (37% mortality) and VF-145 (33% mortality). Mortality was least (20%) on the F1 hybrid GS-27, indicating that GS-27 was the most favorable cultivar for S. littoralis. L. decemlineata larvae reared on excised tomato leaflets of the same varieties indicated similar trends. Factors responsible for greater resistance of Edkawy and UCX to S. littoralis and L. decemlineata are under investigation.

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Brent Rowell, R. Terry Jones, William Nesmith, April Satanek and John C. Snyder

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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Derek M. Law, A. Brent Rowell, John C. Snyder and Mark A. Williams

A 2-year field study in Lexington, Ky., evaluated weed control efficacy and influence on yields of several organic mulches in two organically managed bell pepper (Capsicum annuum) production systems. Five weed control treatments [straw, compost, wood chips, undersown white dutch clover (Trifolium repens) “living mulch,” and the organically approved herbicide corn gluten] were applied to two production systems consisting of peppers planted in double rows in either flat, bare ground or on black polyethylene-covered raised beds. In the first year, treatments were applied at transplanting and no treatment was found to provide acceptable season-long weed control. As a result, bell pepper yields in both production systems were very low due to extensive weed competition. First year failures in weed control required a modification of the experimental protocol in the second year such that treatment application was delayed for 6 weeks, during which time three shallow cultivations were used to reduce early weed pressure and extend the control provided by the mulches. This approach increased the average weed control rating provided by the mulches from 45% in 2003 to 86% in 2004, and resulted in greatly improved yields. In both years, polyethylene-covered raised beds produced higher yields than the flat, bare ground system (8310 lb/acre compared to 1012 lb/acre in 2003 and 42,900 lb/acre compared to 29,700 lb/acre in 2004). In the second year, the polyethylene-covered bed system coupled with mulching in-between beds with compost or wood chips provided excellent weed control and yields. When using the wood chip mulch, which was obtained at no cost, net returns were $5587/acre, which is similar to typical returns for conventionally grown peppers in Kentucky. Net returns were substantially decreased when using compost due to the purchase cost. Results from this study indicate that shallow cultivation following transplanting, combined with midseason mulch application, resulted in high yields in an organically managed bell pepper system that were comparable to yields of most varieties grown conventionally in a variety trial conducted on the same farm.

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John C. Snyder, Richard Thacker, Jan St. Pvrek and Jack P. Goodman

Spider mites (Tetranychus urticae Koch) readily colonize the cultivated tomato. Lycopersicon esculentum L. However, mites have extreme difficulty colonizing the wild relative of tomato, L. hirsutum Humb. and Bonpl. When mites approach leaves of L. hirsutum, they often veer away, suggesting the presence of a deterrent or repellent. Initial experiments indicated that trichome secretions on leaflets of L. hirstum deterred mites. In vitro bioassays indicated that at least four distinct compounds present in these sequiterpenoid secretions of L. hirsutum P.I. 251303 were deterrent. At least two of the compounds were soluble in dilute NaOH. Based on mass spectra and 1H and 13C NMR the structure of two base soluble compounds were established as two related bisabolane derived carboxylic acids.