Improved methodologies for breeding striga-resistant sorghums uri icon

abstract

  • Parasitic flowering weeds of the genus Striga (Scrophulariaceae) cause substantial losses in sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) production in sub-Saharan Africa. Striga-resistant sorghum cultivars could be a major component of integrated striga management, if resistance was available in adapted, productive germplasm. In this paper we review methodologies for breeding striga-resistant sorghums. The agar-gel assay is an excellent tool to screen host genotypes in the laboratory for low production of the striga seed germination stimulant. Further laboratory assays are needed which allow the non-destructive, rapid and inexpensive evaluation of individual plants for additional resistance mechanisms. Field screening for striga resistance is hampered by high microvariability in African soils, heterogeneity of natural infestations, and concomitant large environmental effects on striga emergence. An improved field testing methodology should include one or several of the following practices: field inoculation with striga seeds; appropriate experimental design including elevated replication number; specific plot layout; use of appropriate susceptible and resistant checks; evaluation in adjacent infested and uninfested plots; and the use of selection indices derived from emerged striga counts, striga vigor, and grain yield or a host plant damage score. Due to the extreme variability of the parasite and significant genotype×environment interaction effects, multi-locational screening is recommended to obtain materials with stable performance. Additional strategies include: careful definition of the target environments; determination of the most important selection traits in each target environment; characterization of crop germplasm and improvement of available sources of resistance for better agronomic performance; transfer and pyramiding of resistance genes into adapted, farmer-selected cultivars; development of striga-resistant parent lines for hybrid or synthetic cultivars; and development of random-mating populations with multiple sources of resistance. The development of marker-assisted selection techniques for broad-based, polygenic striga resistance is underway. This approach is particularly promising because striga resistance tests are difficult, expensive, and sometimes unreliable; the parasite is quarantined; and some resistance genes are recessive. Transgenic, herbicide-tolerant sorghums could contribute to an immediate, cost-effective control of striga by herbicides, but such cultivars are not yet available. The selection of sorghum cultivars with specific adaptation to integrated striga management approaches could contribute to sustainable sorghum production in striga-infested areas of sub-Saharan Africa

publication date

  • 2000
  • 2000