Improving resistance to Fusarium root rot [Fusarium solani (Mart.) Sacc. f. sp. phaseoli (Burkholder) W.C. Snyder & H.N. Hans] in common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.)
Mugisha, Clare Mukankusi.
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Fusarium root rot (FRR) disease, caused by the fungus Fusarium solani f. sp. phaseoli (FSP), is an important soil-borne disease reducing common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) yields, and hence food security, in Uganda and elsewhere in developing countries where the crop is grown without fungicides. The key aim of this study was to elucidate the significance of bean root rot (BRR), appraise methods for screening germplasm for resistance to FRR, determine the genotypic variability of resistance, and the inheritance of resistance to FRR in common bean. This information was deemed useful in devising an appropriate strategy for breeding FRR resistance in beans. A participatory rural appraisal (PRA) was conducted in south-western and eastern Uganda to ascertain farmers’ awareness of BRR and their influence on preferred bean varieties. Bean root rot is considered to be the most devastating and most recognised disease, especially in south-western Uganda. Control measures for BRR were very minimal, and in some cases, non-existent. Use of resistant varieties to control the disease was not evident, because the most popular varieties were susceptible to the disease. The resistant bean varieties currently available have undesirable characteristics such as small seed size, black seed and late maturity. Large-seeded bean varieties, even though cited as being more susceptible to BRR than the small-seeded varieties, are still very popular. The study highlighted the need for breeding FRR resistance in the large-seeded bean varieties that are highly preferred by farmers. Four isolates of FSP (FSP-1, FSP-2, FSP-3 and FSP-4) were tested for pathogenicity under screenhouse and laboratory conditions. In addition, three methods of storing and maintaining the viability of FSP isolates were appraised. The isolate FSP-3, was found to be the most pathogenic, resulting in 100% disease incidence on all bean varieties tested, with high severity scores. The potato dextrose agar (PDA) slants stored at 5oC were found to be the best method of storage for pathogenic isolates. The FSP-3 isolate was subsequently utilised for screening bean lines for resistance to FRR. The influence of soil composition, irrigation frequency, and inoculation technique on the severity of FRR was studied on six bean lines. Interactions of irrigation frequency, soil composition, and bean lines were not significant. The 50% swamp soil:50% forest soil composition and forest soil alone categorized the varieties most distinctly according to their reaction to FRR. Also, the best distinct classification for the varieties was obtained under treatments that were watered daily and once in a week. Based on economic considerations, the standard forest soil and daily irrigation were subsequently adopted for screening bean germplasm for resistance to FRR. It was also found that sorghum seed as a medium for pathogen inoculation was better than the agar slurry medium. One hundred and forty seven common bean varieties were evaluated for resistance to FRR (isolate FSP-3) under screenhouse conditions. In order to confirm this resistance, 46 common bean lines selected from the screenhouse trial were further evaluated using natural inoculum in a BRR-infested field. Forty-four varieties comprising ten large-seeded, four medium-seeded and 30 small-seeded varieties showed moderate resistance to FRR; but none were resistant or immune to the disease. Based on adaptability, eight moderately resistant varieties were selected for use as parents in the study of inheritance of resistance to FRR. A 12 x 12 diallel mating design was utilised to develop 66 F1 and F2 populations, plus their reciprocal crosses, with the aim of studying the mode of inheritance of resistance to FRR. The F1 and F2 progeny evaluations showed that FRR resistance was mainly governed by additive genes in most populations. However, there were a few crosses which displayed highly significant specific combining ability (SCA) effects, implying that dominant effects were important in some populations. Maternal effects were also highly significant at both the F1 and F2 generations, suggesting that resistance was modified by cytoplasmic genes. The non-maternal effects were also significant in some populations, suggesting that the cytoplasmic genes were interacting with nuclear genes. The number of genes governing resistance to FRR varied from two to nine among the eight sources of resistance. The allelism test of resistant x resistant populations, and the observation of continuous distributions of severity scores, suggested the presence of many loci governing FRR resistance in beans. Broad sense heritability of disease resistance varied from 0.22-0.69, while heritability in the narrow sense was estimated as 0.35-0.49 in the populations. These results suggested that selection and backcrossing to both parents would be the best breeding procedures for improving resistance in the popular large-seeded bean varieties in Uganda. However, there could be complications in breeding for resistance to FRR in beans, because resistance was modified by cytoplasmic gene effects and their interaction with nuclear genes in some of the populations.
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