Accessions of both domesticated and wild Cucurbita spp. were tested from Jan. to May 1996 in Isabela, Puerto Rico, for resistance to silverleaf and sweetpotato whitefly (Bemisia tabaci). None of the accessions tested were completely free of whiteflies, but some accessions were completely free of silverleaf. At 8 weeks, checks of `Soler' and `Butternut' had silverleaf ratings of 4.5 and 0.0, respectively (on a 0 to 5 scale, where 0 = no silverleaf). Both checks were highly infected with whiteflies. Wild Cucurbitas do not appear to be a good source of whitefly or silverleaf resistance. While no strong correlations were observed between number of whiteflies and degree of silvering, all plants that were highly silvered were also heavily infested with whiteflies. Some plants with little or no silverleaf had many fewer whiteflies. Plants from ≈40 accessions from a total of about 800 were selfed for further evaluation.
Linda Wessel Beaver and Ruth Cienfuegos
In order to effectively use recurrent selection for developing polygenic resistance to powdery mildew (Erysiphe cichoracearum), methods to quantify resistance need to be developed. Our objective was to compare several inoculation methods for their effectiveness in a half-sib selection breeding program. Seven inoculation methods and 3 controls were applied to each of two susceptible C. moschata varieties planted in pots and arranged in a randomized complete block design with five replications. The experiment was repeated two times. Single degree of freedom comparisons found no difference in number of lesions resulting from inoculation by rubbing host with infected tissue vs. attaching infected tissue. Using no adherent resulted in as many lesions as using triton. Egg white as an adherent resulted in fewer lesions than using triton or no adherent. Spraying with a triton spore suspension was not an effective method. While rubbing leaves is fast and easy, attaching pieces of infected tissue may afford more control of spore concentration.
Linda Wessel-Beaver and J.W. Scott
Heritabilities (h2) and genetic correlations between percent fruit set, yield, and fruit weight were estimated from one summer planting each in Florida and Puerto Rico of 100 S, tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) families from a synthetic population. Single-location h2 was high for all traits. Across-locations h2 was low for yield, intermediate for fruit set, and high for fruit weight. Genotype × environment interaction (G × E) was 1) the only significant component of variance for yield, 2) somewhat important for fruit set, and 3) not an important variance component for fruit weight. The greater importance of genetic variance compared to G × E variance explains why across-location heritabilities for fruit weight and fruit set were high. Genetic correlations between fruit set and weight were strongly negative, while those between yield and set were large and positive. Yields under high temperatures may increase with selection for fruit set, but a reduction in fruit weight would be expected in this population and those with similar genetic correlations.
Jorge Pérez-Arocho and Linda Wessel-Beaver
Melonworm (Diaphania hyalinata) is one of the most damaging pests of squash and pumpkin (Cucurbita sp.) in tropical/subtropical regions of the Americas. In order to identify sources of resistence to melonworm, we evaluated 345 accessions of C. moschata, including both tropical and temperate types, originating from the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa. C. argyrosperma (65 accessions) was also evaluated. Accessions were field tested in five single-plant complete blocks planted over a 9-month period in Isabela, P.R. Each plant was evaluated for foliar damage (0–4 scale) at 3 and 6 weeks. Larval counts were made on a five-leaf sample at 8 weeks. Accessions were classified for degree of leaf mottling and pubescence. Differences among accessions were found for foliar damage and number of larva, but ranking of accessions varied, depending on the criteria used to measure resistance. In order to establish independent culling levels, we considered the lower 30% of accessions for each trait. The upper limit was ≤0.42 for foliar damage at 3 weeks, ≤0.50 damage at 6 weeks, and ≤1.25larva/plant. This led to the selection of 34 resistant accessions. We used a similar technique to identify the most susceptible accessions. The susceptible accessions will be used as a control group when the 34 selections are further evaluated. Within C. moschata, accessions with either green leaves or less pubescence had less leaf damage and fewer larva than accessions with mottled leaves or more pubescence. As a group, C. argryosperma accessions were more susceptible, and nearly all had mottled leaves and little pubescence. Untested accessions with green leaves and/or little pubescence might yield additional sources of resistance to melonworm.
Linda Wessel-Beaver and Ann Marie Thro
The Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee will be a forum for leadership regarding issues, problems, and opportunities of long-term strategic importance to the contribution of plant breeding to national goals. The committee will create the only regular opportunity to provide such leadership across all crops. The nature of plant breeding as an integrative discipline par excellence will be reflected in multidisciplinary committee membership. The past decade has brought major changes in the U.S. national plant breeding investment. In order for administrators and other decisionmakers to understand the implications of the changes and respond most effectively for the future, there is need for a clear analysis of the role of plant breeding for meeting national goals. Although recent changes in investment are the impetus for this committee, the need to articulate the role of plant breeding in meeting national goals is likely to be on-going, regardless of immediate circumstances. This presentation will describe recent progress on organizing this committee, and will ask all plant breeders to begin thinking about the questions to be addressed at the upcoming national workshop.
Giseiry Rosa-Valentín, Linda Wessel-Beaver, and Jose Carlos V. Rodrigues
One of the most important members of the Potyviridae is Zucchini yellow mosaic virus (ZYMV). It affects watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai] as well as other cucurbits in most parts of the world. Although several genotypes have been reported as having resistance to ZYMV, differential responses to ZYMV strains are known to occur. Using a Puerto Rico strain of ZYMV (ZYMV-PR, GenBank accession number MN422959), we tested the response of 11 genotypes [PIs from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Genetic Resources Program] previously reported as having resistance to this virus. In two greenhouse trials, the first three leaves of seedlings of each genotype were mechanically inoculated with ZYMV-PR. An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was done on each seedling’s fourth leaf and symptom severity was rated on the first, third, fifth, and seventh leaves. There were significant genotype × trial interactions for most variables, but some genotypes performed consistently in both trials. All seedlings of PI 537277 tested negative for ELISA (absorbance < 0.200) across both trials. PI 537277, PI 595200, PI 595201, and PI 595203 were generally among the accessions with the lowest symptom severity scores. Overall, symptom severity correlated poorly with ELISA readings. But all plants of PI 537277, and most plants of PI 595201 and PI 595203, had low ELISA readings and low severity scores. Despite having low severity scores, PI 595200 was among the genotypes with the highest ELISA readings in trial 2. For the plant breeder, the most useful genotypes are those that exhibit reduced severity as well as low ELISA. PI 537277, PI 595201, and PI 595203 met those criteria in this study. Of these three accessions, PI 595203 would be the most useful in a breeding program because it has shown resistance to the Puerto Rico, Florida, and China strains of ZYMV.
Marilyn Rivera-Hernández, Linda Wessel-Beaver, and José X. Chaparro
Squash and pumpkins (Cucurbita sp.) are important contributors of beta-carotene to the diet. Consumers of tropical pumpkin and butternut squash (both C. moschata Duchesne) prefer a deep orange mesocarp color. Color intensity is related to carotene content. Among the five domesticated Cucurbita species, C. moschata and C. argyrosperma Huber have a close relationship. In crosses between these two species, fertile F1 plants can be easily obtained when using C. argyrosperma as the female parent. This research studied the relationship between and within C. moschata and C. argyrosperma by sequencing three genes in the carotenoid biosynthesis pathway and generating gene trees. Genotypes used in the study differed in flesh color from very pale yellow to dark orange. In some cases, haplotypes were associated with a particular mesocarp color. Further study of these types of associations may improve our understanding of color development in Cucurbita. The frequency of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the sequenced fragments was low. There were more SNPs and more heterozygotes among C. moschata accessions than among C. argyrosperma accessions. Haplotypes of the outgroups (C. ficifolia C.D. Bouché and C. maxima Duchesne) were always distinct from C. moschata and C. argyrosperma. These later species had both distinct haplotypes and shared haplotypes. Haplotypes shared among species tended to be maintained in the same branch of the phylogenetic tree, suggesting either gene flow between the species or a common ancestral gene. Both explanations suggest a close genetic and evolutionary relationship between C. moschata and C. argyrosperma.
David Sotomayor-Ramírez, Miguel Oliveras-Berrocales, and Linda Wessel-Beaver
Onion (Allium cepa) and tropical pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata) combined contribute 13% of the total gross agricultural income (GAI) for vegetable crops in Puerto Rico, which is estimated at $54.5 million. Both crops are usually rotated on an annual basis. In this study, an onion-tropical pumpkin rotation was used to test the effect of fertilizer-nitrogen (N) on agronomic indicators of onion (plant height, number of leaves per plant, leaf color index, and leaf nutrient concentration), yield of both onion and tropical pumpkin, and inorganic N changes in the soil profile. Three fertilizer-N levels (140, 196, 252 kg·ha−1) were applied to onion, followed by 112 and 280 kg·ha−1 of N applied to tropical pumpkin. For tropical pumpkin, N was applied in plots with the lowest and highest fertilizer-N levels from the previous onion crop. Changes in onion agronomic indicators with increasing N fertilization were either not significant or showed no clear trend. There was no increase in total and marketable yields and number of onions with increasing fertilizer-N levels. Tropical pumpkin yields significantly increased with 280 kg·ha−1 compared with 112 kg·ha−1 of N. Using 112 kg·ha−1 as a baseline fertilizer-N application, the value/cost ratio for tropical pumpkin was $12.70 per dollar of fertilizer-N. In low fertilizer-N plots, immediately available inorganic soil N (0 to 30 cm) did not change between the onion and tropical pumpkin crop, but then decreased at the end of the rotation. In high fertilizer-N plots, immediately available soil N greatly increased after onion, but then decreased at the end of the rotation. Potentially leachable soil N (30 to 100 cm) also increased after the onion crop and then decreased after pumpkin. However, in high fertilizer-N plots, potentially leachable soil N remained 44% higher at the end, compared with the beginning, of the rotation. The increased income attainable with the highest fertilizer-N in tropical pumpkin may be offset by greater residual soil N in the lower part of the soil profile, and the potential for this N to have a negative environmental impact.
Donald N. Maynard, Gary W. Elmstrom, and Linda Wessel-Beaver
Hybrids from crosses between bush/short-vined breeding lines and traditional, vining cultigens were evaluated in the fall 1993 season. Yields of individual hybrids were 0.51 to 1.73 times those of their vining parents and 0.83 to 4.41 times those of the bush/short-vined parents. The average yield response of 58 hybrids was 1.05 times that of vining parents and 2.15 that of bush/short-vined parents. Average fruit weight, flesh thickness, and flesh color of the hybrids tended to be intermediate between that of the bush/short-vined and vining parents. Plant habit of all hybrids was similar to that of the bush/short-vined parent early in the growth cycle, but some became viney later in the growth cycle. Fruit matured earlier on bush/short-vined parent and hybrid plants than on viney parent plants.
Patrick Chesney, Linda Wessel-Beaver, and Donald N. Maynard
Most cultivars of tropical pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata Duchesne) are large, trailing plants. New semi-bush (SB) genotypes need to be tested against traditional long vine (LV) types. Both types of pumpkin have large amounts of interplant space during the early stages of growth that might allow for the planting of an intercrop. To test this hypothesis, as well as the performance of tropical pumpkins of varying growth habit, double rows of beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) or cowpeas [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.] were intercropped between rows of SB or traditional LV tropical pumpkin in Spring and Fall 1993 in Lajas and Isabela, Puerto Rico. In general, interactions between intercrop treatment and pumpkin genotype were not significant. At its maximum percentage cover (MC) the LV genotype covered, or nearly covered, the entire plot while the SB genotype covered 50% of the plot or less. The SB pumpkin was harvested 5 to 27 days earlier than the LV type. Yield was two to 12 times greater, and average fruit size three to six times greater in the latter. Planting of an intercrop did not reduce pumpkin yield. Green-shelled yields of intercropped legumes averaged ≈700 kg·ha-1. Genotype of the pumpkin maincrop did not affect legume green-shelled yields in Lajas. In Isabela, legume green-shelled yields were 50% higher in SB than in LV pumpkin plots. Legume dry grain yields were greatly reduced in LV compared to SB plots. Intercropping of tropical pumpkin with a short season legume that can be harvested green-shelled is an efficient intercropping system that offers additional yield from the legume without sacrificing yield from the pumpkin maincrop. Both SB and LV pumpkins can be used in an intercrop system, but pumpkin yields were much greater with the LV genotype.