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A study of bruchid resistance and its inheritance in Malawian dry bean germplasm.

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Dry bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) is economically and nutritionally an important legume, not only in Malawi, but in many parts of Africa and Latin America. Unfortunately, two bruchid species (Acanthoscelides obtectus Say, and Zabrotes subfasciatus Boheman) are known to cause extensive damage in storage, reducing the economic importance, food value and planting value of the crop. The aim of this study was to: i) ascertain farmers’ perceptions of the importance of bruchids as storage pests, and to identify their preferred varietal traits in dry beans; ii) screen Malawian dry bean landraces for effective and adaptable sources of resistance to the two bruchid species; iii) determine the gene action and inheritance of bruchid resistance. Farmers’ perceptions on the importance of the two bruchid species to beans both in the field and in storage were established using a participatory rural appraisal (PRA) in three extension planning areas (EPAs) in Lilongwe agricultural development division (ADD). Results confirmed that the two bruchid species are important storage pests, causing serious storage losses among smallholder farmers. In the absence of any control measures, farmers indicated that more than 50% of their stored beans could be lost to bruchids. Indigenous bruchid control measures are not very effective, making it necessary to search for other control methods. It was also clear from the PRA results that breeders need to consider both agronomic and culinary traits in bean cultivar development. This would enhance uptake of newly developed varieties. To address the problem of bruchid damage experienced by smallholder farmers, a total of 135 dry bean genotypes, comprising 77 landraces and 58 improved varieties (obtained from collaborating partners) were tested under laboratory infestation (nochoice test methods) and field infestation (free-choice test methods). The objective of this study was to identify effective sources of resistance to the two bruchid species. Results of the study showed that there was a wide variation among the genotypes for resistance to the two bruchid species. Overall results showed that 88% of the genotypes ranged from susceptible to highly susceptible to Z. subfasciatus and only 12% of the genotypes were moderately resistant to resistant. Genotype screening for resistance to A. obtectus showed that only 12.5% were resistant, whereas 87.5% were moderately to highly susceptible. All of the improved genotypes were 100% susceptible to A. obtectus in storage. One landrace, KK35, consistently showed a high level of resistance to both bruchids under laboratory infestation, with results similar to the resistant checks (SMARC 2 and SMARC 4), while another landrace, KK90, displayed stable resistance under both laboratory and field infestation. However, performance of most genotypes was not consistent with field and laboratory screenings, suggesting that mechanisms of bruchid resistance in the field are different from that in the laboratory and field screening should always be used to validate laboratory screening. Resistance in the field was not influenced by morphological traits. The seed coat played a significant role in conferring resistance to both bruchid species in the laboratory, whereas arcelin did not play any significant role in conferring resistance in the landraces. The inheritance of resistance to A. obtectus was studied in a 6 x 6 complete diallel mating design, involving crosses of selected Malawian dry bean landraces. The F1 crosses, their reciprocals, and six parents were infested with seven F1 generation (1 to 3 d old) insects of A. obtectus in a laboratory, no-choice test. There were significant differences among genotypes for general combining ability (GCA) and specific combining ability (SCA). However, SCA accounted for 81% of the sum of squares for the crosses, indicating predominance of the non-additive gene action contributing to bruchid resistance. A chi-square test for a single gene model showed that 5 of the 13 F2 populations fitted the 1:2:1 segregation ratio of resistant, intermediate and susceptible classes, respectively indicating partial dominance. The eight F2 populations did not conform to the two gene model of 1:4:6:4:1 segregation ratio of resistant, moderately resistant, moderately susceptible, susceptible and highly susceptible classes, respectively. Average degree of dominance was in the partial dominance range in five F3 populations, but in general resistance was controlled by over-dominance gene action in the F2 populations. The additive-dominance model was adequate to explain the variation among genotypes indicating that epistatic effects were not important in controlling the bruchid resistance. The frequency distribution of the 13 F3 populations for resistance to A. obtectus provided evidence for transgressive segregation, suggesting that resistance is conditioned by more than one gene. Reciprocal differences were not significant in the F2 generation seed; but were significant in four crosses in the F3 generation seed for adult bruchid emergence, suggesting that maternal effects or cytoplasmic gene effects also played a role in the inheritance of resistance to the common bean weevil. Through this study, important sources of bruchid resistance in dry bean have been identified in Malawian landraces (KK35, KK90 and KK73). These resistant sources will be used in a breeding programme to develop bruchid resistant bean cultivars, as well as improve resistance in susceptible commercial bean cultivars currently grown by farmers in Malawi.


Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2007.


Beans--Diseases and pests--Malawi., Beans--Disease and pest resistance--Genetic aspects., Beans--Breeding--Malawi., Beans--Varieties--Malawi., Phaseolus vulgaris--Malawi., Beans--Storage--Malawi., Bean weevil--Malawi., Bruchidae--Malawi., Plant breeding--Research--Africa., Theses--Plant breeding.