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  • Author or Editor: Rajagopalbabu Srinivasan x
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Large populations of sweetpotato whiteflies (Bemisia tabaci) have become more regular occurrences during the fall months in parts of the southeastern United States. Large populations of sweetpotato whiteflies have resulted in a significant increase in the incidence of sweetpotato whitefly-transmitted viruses, particularly the cucurbit leaf crumple virus (CuLCrV), which has the potential to cause complete yield loss of fall-planted yellow squash and zucchini (Cucurbita pepo). This study evaluated commercial cultivars of yellow squash and zucchini for resistance against CuLCrV and estimated the yield and fruit quality under environmental conditions during the fall growing season in the southeastern United States. A factorial experimental design was conducted with nine yellow squash and 11 zucchini cultivars during Fall 2017, Fall 2018, and Fall 2019 in Tifton, GA. In situ weather stations monitored the weather conditions during growing seasons, and yellow pest monitor cards monitored the sweetpotato whitefly populations in 2018 and 2019. During all growing seasons, yellow squash and zucchini plants were rated weekly for the severity of CuLCrV. Harvests were conducted 12 times during each season, and fruit were graded as fancy, medium, and culls. Rainfall distribution directly affected the sweetpotato whitefly populations during the production year. In 2018, frequent rainfall events created field conditions that reduced the sweetpotato whitefly populations compared with those during 2017 and 2019. The severity of CuLCrV negatively impacted both the yield and quality of fruit of yellow squash and zucchini, and no resistant commercial cultivars of yellow squash or zucchini were identified. Nonetheless, the yellow squash cultivars Lioness, Gold Prize, and Grand Prize, and the zucchini cultivars SV6009YG and SV0914YG had the highest yields when subjected to the highest sweetpotato whitefly populations during the study.

Open Access

Summer squash (Cucurbita pepo L.) is a major vegetable crop produced in Georgia and Florida during the fall season. This production is vulnerable to whitefly (Bemisisia tabaci Genn.)-transmitted viruses that lead to severe yield losses. Over the past several years, whitefly populations have increased during the fall, thus leading to an increase in whitefly-transmitted viruses such as Cucurbit leaf crumple virus (CuLCrV) and Cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus (CYSDV). Whitefly management for summer squash relies on the use of insecticides and can be costly without providing adequate management of the viruses. Deployment of host resistance to whiteflies and their transmitted viruses (CuLCrV and CYSDV) is the best strategy for mitigating yield loss of summer squash; however, no resistant cultivars are commercially available. In the current study, resistance or tolerance to whiteflies, CuLCrV, and CYSDV was determined for squash germplasm from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), university breeding programs, and commercial companies in Georgia and Florida across 2 years. In both locations and years, visual virus symptom severity scores were collected and a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) was used to determine the CuLCrV viral load and CYSDV presence in Georgia. Whitefly-induced feeding damage was evaluated by directly assessing the intensity of silverleaf symptoms and visual counts of whitefly adults on the foliage in the field or in photographs. Virus symptom severity was lower in C. moschata Duchesne ex Poir. genotypes, namely, PI 550689, PI 550692, PI 550694, PI 653064, and Squash Betternut 900, than in other evaluated genotypes. Two C. pepo accessions were common between both locations for viral severity (PI 442294) or viral severity and viral load (PI 171625). Lower CuLCrV loads were identified in C. ecuadorensis Cutler & Whitaker (PI 540895), and C. okeechobeensis (Small) L.H.Bailey (PI 540900) than other evaluated genotypes. Four genotypes tested negative for CYSDV during both years: C. pepo (PI 507882), C. moschata (PI 483345), C. ecuadorensis (PI 390455), and C. okeechobeensis (PI 540900); they are potential sources of resistance. Six C. moschata accessions (PI 211999, PI 550690, PI 550692, PI 550694, PI 634982, and PI 653064) showed high tolerance to silverleaf disorder and had the lowest adult whitefly counts. Collectively, the accessions identified in the current study are potential sources of resistance or tolerance to whitefly and whitefly-transmitted viruses (CuLCrV and CYSDV).

Open Access