Breeding investigations for black Sigatoka resistance and associated traits in diploids, tetraploids and the triploid progenies of bananas in Uganda.
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Reduced banana yield owing to black Sigatoka Mycosphaerella fijiensis Morelet is a threat to the livelihoods of Ugandan subsistence farmers who depend entirely on the banana crop for food security. The objectives of this investigation were to: (i) assess farmers’ knowledge of black Sigatoka disease in central Uganda; (ii) document the qualities farmers would desire in the banana genotypes to be developed for black Sigatoka resistance; (iii) appraise the methods for assessing black Sigatoka resistance in diploid banana populations; (iv) determine the phenotypic variation for black Sigatoka resistance and agronomic traits in diploid and tetraploid bananas; (v) determine the influence of tetraploid and diploid parents on the black Sigatoka resistance and agronomic traits in the triploid progenies; and (vi) evaluate 2x by 2x banana progenies for yield and black Sigatoka resistance. A survey that focused on low and medium banana production zones in Uganda established that there was limited awareness of black Sigatoka disease as a constraint on banana production in the areas surveyed. It was also established that farmers liked local bananas because of their superior taste, early maturity, and marketability. There were farmers who had been exposed to new black Sigatoka resistant materials but never liked these new banana materials because of poor taste and lack of market. Farmers desired new banana materials with good taste on cooking, heavy bunches, resistance to pests and diseases, drought tolerance, and early maturing capacity in that order. The results indicated that the banana farmers in Uganda attached more importance to food quality attributes than to production attributes especially when considering new banana materials. This suggested that farmers mainly grow bananas for consumption. Three black Sigatoka assessment methods, youngest leaf spotted, disease development time and area under disease progress curve (AUDPC) were appraised using a diploid population. All the three methods were able to classify the diploid accessions into resistant and susceptible clones. The cultivar rankings of AUDPC correlated strongly with the rankings of disease development time. The cultivar rankings of AUDPC correlated positively with the rankings of youngest leaf spotted method. The youngest leaf spotted at flowering and AUDPC predicted significantly total number of leaves at flowering (R2 = 0.53). Overall AUDPC had the highest coefficient of determination (R2=0.84) in assessment of banana diploids for black Sigatoka resistance indicating that it accounted for the highest variation in disease response observed among the diploid clones. From this investigation it was recommended that AUDPC should be used to assess resistance on black Sigatoka in Musa species. A phenotypic analysis on the diploid and synthetic tetraploids, and a molecular analysis using RAPD markers on the tetraploid population were conducted. Results indicated that the diploid population had significant (P<0.001) variation for plant height, plant girth, days from flowering to harvest, bunch weight, number of suckers, youngest leaf spotted, total leaves at flowering, area under disease progress curve, and number of functional leaves at harvest. Principal component analysis showed that plant height and girth explained most of the variation observed in the diploid population. In the tetraploid population, significant differences were observed for plant height, plant girth, and number of suckers (P<0.05). In the tetraploids principal component analysis, indicated that youngest leaf spotted and total leaves at flowering had higher loadings on principal component one. Genetic distances computed from RAPD markers indicated limited genetic variability in the tetraploid population. Another investigation was also carried out to determine the influence of tetraploid and diploid parents on black Sigatoka resistance and agronomic traits in the triploid progenies generated from tetraploid-diploid crosses. The results indicated that diploids transferred black Sigatoka resistance to triploid progenies as measured by disease development over time, the number of functional leaves at flowering and at harvest. On the other hand, the female synthetic tetraploids influenced plant height and bunch weight in the triploid progenies generated from tetraploid-diploid crosses as observed from triploid progeny correlations and parent-offspring regressions. Therefore, it is important to select tetraploids with heavy bunch weights to generate high yielding triploids in tetraploid-diploid crosses. Lastly, this thesis investigated the relationship between bunch weight and black Sigatoka resistance traits in 2x by 2x progenies generated using a random polycross design. Phenotypic correlations revealed strong positive relationships between bunch weight with total leaves at flowering, youngest leaf spotted, plant girth, and days from planting to flowering among the 2x by 2x progenies. Linear regression analysis indicated that girth, total fingers and finger length significantly predicted bunch weight (R2=0.67). However, days from planting to flowering, and total leaves at flowering had strong indirect effects on bunch weight via plant girth. The results imply that selection for parents with good combining ability for girth, finger length and total fingers can improve bunch weight in a diploid population.
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