Two cycles of recurrent selection lead to simultaneous improvement in black spot resistance and stem strength in field pea

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Susceptibility to black spot [caused by Mycosphaerella pinodes (Berk. and Blox.) Vestergr.] and weak stem strength in field pea (Pisum sativum L.) are major restrictions to yield, seed quality, and ease of harvest. Previous studies have established that additive genetic variance is present for both traits, and that stem strength is strongly associated with a field test of compressed stem thickness at the base of the stem. This study aimed to improve these two complex traits simultaneously by recurrent selection. Heritabilities and responses to selection for resistance to black spot and stem strength were evaluated during two cycles of recurrent selection after intercrossing diverse genotypes. Response to selection was indicated by a reduction of 10% in the mean black spot leaf disease in the F2 of cycle 2 compared with the F2 of cycle 1, when considered as a percentage of the mean of cycle 1 parents in the same trials. Likewise, there was a 15% increase in stem strength, based on the mean compressed stem thickness in the F2 of cycle 2 compared with the F2 of cycle 1. Broad sense heritability for resistance to black spot leaf disease was moderate (H = 0.63 ± 0.35 across cycles 1 and 2) and for compressed stem thickness was also moderate (H = 0.66 ± 0.34). Genetic gains were realized for both traits simultaneously in the first two cycles and were predicted to be rapid over the next five to six cycles based on a random mating quantitative genetics model.

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