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  • Author or Editor: John Schneider x
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A breeding population including parents with known moderate levels of weevil resistance was evaluated for resistance in a field experiment with few naturally occurring weevils. Weevils were collected from several Mississippi locations and intermated for increase. One male and one female were applied to the crown of each plant 73 days after transplanting. Seventeen parents and their progenies plus 6 additional clones or families were grown in 5 plant plots replicated 8 times. Genetic variability for resistance to weevil injury was observed. Mean percentage injured roots ranged from 25 to 85 and there were differences in resistance to injury among genotypes. Additive genetic variance was moderate so increased resistance levels should result from selection and intermating for high resistance.

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A breeding program to develop improved sweetpotato genotypes with increased sweetpotato weevil resistance was started in 1990. Germplasm, including plant introductions, cultivars, and breeding lines with reported insect resistance, was field tested for injury levels by applying low numbers of weevils. Low levels of resistance were found and `Regal' was among the highest. Top performing lines were selected and intermated. After 2 selection cycles the most highly resistant selection produced 89% uninjured roots compared to 28% in `Regal'. Severity of injury score was 16 times lower in the most resistant selection (0.15) compared to `Regal' (2.40).

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The sweetpotato weevil is the most-destructive worldwide pest of sweetpotato and only low to moderate levels of resistance to the insect are available in acceptable cultivars. No sources of high resistance levels have been identified; consequently, there is a need to identify additional sources of resistance genes to develop high resistance levels. To begin a search for sources of resistance, plant introductions were evaluated for injury levels. In 1993, 100 plant introductions were evaluated for sweetpotato weevil injury and 62 of the least injured were tested again in 1994. In 1995, 36 of the least injured in 1993 and 1994, plus 24 additional PIs were evaluated. Control cultivars included `Regal', moderately resistant; `Jewel', intermediate; and `Beauregard' and `Centennial', susceptible. Measurements of injury were percentage of roots injured, and, stem and root injury scores based on a 0–5 scale, with 0 being no injury. First year results indicated that a low level of resistance to stem injury is available in the PIs tested. Stem injury was more severe in the following year and no differences were found. Lower weevil populations will be required to screen for low levels of stem injury resistance. Percentage injured roots and root injury scores were lower over the 3 years for five PIs than for `Regal'.

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One hundred plant introductions (PIs) were evaluated for sweetpotato-weevil resistance in experiment station field trials for 2 years in Beaumont, Miss. Weevil infestation was accomplished by applying adult weevils in year 1 and weevil infested roots in year 2. The percentage of uninjured roots ranged from 38% in `Centennial', the susceptible control, to 93% in PI538288. Severity of root and stem injury were measured in year 2. Stem injury ratings on a scale of 0, for no injury, to 4, for severe injury, ranged from 1.2 in PI564113 to 3.7 in `Beauregard'. Root injury ratings on a scale of 0 to 5 ranged from 0.1 in PI538288 to 4.2 in `Beauregard' (susceptible control). Thirty-five PIs had lower root injury values than `Regal' (resistant control), and the percentage of uninjured roots was higher in 45 PIs than in `Regal'. These results suggest that genes are available in PIs for increased levels of weevil resistance in sweetpotato.

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Narrow-sense heritabilities (h2) for sweetpotato weevil (Cylas formicarius elegantulus) resistance were estimated in 2 breeding populations. Population A included clones from US programs with previously reported moderate levels of weevil resistance. Population B included clones of US origin plusplant introductions from 14 countries. Parents and progenies were included in field evaluations with no wild weevils present. Weevils were cultured and applied to each plant. Population A was evaluated for 2 years and population B for 1. The GXE estimate for population A was also used for population B. Heritabilities were estimated by parent offspring regression and variance component analysis. Average h2 for percentage noninjured roots were 0.35 and 0.47 for population A and B, respectively. Intermating highest performing genotypes from both populations should increase h2 by increasing frequencies of resistance genes. A moderate rate of increase in resistance levels should result from selecting and intermating resistant genotypes.

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One hundred one accessions from the U.S. germplasm collection were evaluated in field trials for sweetpotato weevil resistance. Weevils were collected from 4 separate Mississippi locations during the winter of 1992-93. They were increased in culture and 6 adult females and 6 males were applied to the crown of each plant percentage of uninjured storage roots ranged from 53 to 99. The most highly resistant control, Regal, had 79% and the most susceptible, Centennial, 60% uninjured roots. Uninjured root numbers ranged from 0.03 to 3.82 per plant. Regal had 2.1 and Centennial 1.88 uninjured roots per plant. Seventy-five accessions produced higher percentages of uninjured roots than Regal. However, 48 of those accessions produced less than one root per plant and previous results indicated that estimates with low storage root numbers lack precision. Fourteen accessions produced as many or more roots than Regal and also higher percentages and numbers of uninjured roots.

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Narrow-sense heritability for component traits of freedom from weevil injury and yield of sweetpotato were estimated by parent-offspring regression and variance component analysis. Heritability estimates by variance component analysis based on half-sib families for percent and number of uninjured roots were 0.25 and 0.83, respectively. Individual plant heritability estimates for uninjured root percent and number were 0.03 and 0.13, respectively. Heritability estimates by parent-offspring regression for uninjured root percent and number were 0.35 and 0.52, respectively. Genetic variance was mostly additive for all traits except stem diameter. Genetic correlations between total root number, uninjured root number, and percent uninjured roots ranged from 0.66 to 0.87, indicating that selection for uninjured root number should most effectively increase uninjured root number and percent, as well as total root numbers. Predicted gains in uninjured root percent and number were 8.8% and 0.87 in the progeny derived from intermating the highest four out of 19 families for uninjured root number. The 0.87 gain in uninjured root number equals a 24% increase in one breeding cycle.

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One hundred U.S. sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatus (L.) Lam.] plant introductions (PIs) and four control cultivars were screened for insect injury in 1993. Of the least injured by insects, 56 and 31 were tested again in 1994 and 1995, respectively. Among control cultivars, the most highly resistant was `Regal' (moderately resistant), followed by `Beauregard' (susceptible), `Centennial' (susceptible), and `Jewel' (susceptible). Stem and root injury by the sweetpotato weevil (SPW) [Cylas formicarius elegantulus (Summers)] and root injury by the wireworm (Conoderus sp.)–Diabrotica sp. (cucumber beetle)– Systena sp. (flea beetle) (WDS) complex were measured. SPW stem injury was less severe (P ≤ 0.05) in 1994 and 1995 in PIs 508523, 531116, and 564107 than in control cultivars. PIs 508523 and 531116 also suffered less SPW root injury than did `Regal'. In the six PIs with least SPW root injury, PIs 538354, 564149, 508523, 538286, 531116, and 564103, 70% to 85% of the roots were not injured compared with 36% in `Regal' and 6% in `Jewel'. SPW root injury scores (0 = no injury; 5 = severe injury) in those PIs averaged 0.5 vs. 2.3 for `Regal'. Only in PI 538286 was WDS injury to roots less than in `Regal' over 2 years. However, eight additional accessions suffered less WDS injury than `Regal' in 1995 and four of those were among the six with least SPW injury. The lower levels of combined insect injury found in these four PIs (compared to `Regal') show that PIs have potential use for increasing insect resistance in sweetpotato improvement programs.

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The eriophyid mite, Phyllocoptes fructiphilus, vectors the causal agent, Rose rosette virus (RRV), that results in rose rosette disease. Parts of the southeastern United States have remained free of the disease, except for infected plant material introductions that were eradicated. A survey of sampling points through Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi (n = 204) revealed the southeastern border of RRV. The presence of RRV in symptomatic plant tissue samples (n = 39) was confirmed by TaqMan-quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). Samples were also collected at every plot for detection of eriophyid mites, specifically for P. fructiphilus. Three different species of eriophyid mites were found to be generally distributed throughout Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. Most of these sites (n = 60) contained P. fructiphilus, found further south than previously thought, but in low populations (<10 mites/gram of tissue) south of the RRV line of incidence. Latitude was found to be significantly correlated with the probability of detecting RRV-positive plants, but plant hardiness zones were not. Plot factors such as plant size, wind barriers, and sun exposure were found to have no effect on P. fructiphilus or the presence of RRV. The reason for the absence of RRV and low populations of P. fructiphilus in this southeast region of the United States are unclear.

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