, Volume 147, Issue 1-2, pp 187-199

Screening techniques and sources of resistance against parasitic weeds in grain legumes

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Summary

A number of parasitic plants have become weeds, posing severe constraints to major crops including grain legumes. Breeding for resistance is acknowledged as the major component of an integrated control strategy. However, resistance against most parasitic weeds is difficult to access, scarce, of complex nature and of low heritability, making breeding for resistance a difficult task. As an exception, resistance against Striga gesnerioides based on a single gene has been identified in cowpea and widely exploited in breeding. In other crops, only moderate to low levels of incomplete resistance of complex inheritance against Orobanche species has been identified. This has made selection more difficult and has slowed down the breeding process, but the quantitative resistance resulting from tedious selection procedures has resulted in the release of cultivars with useful levels of incomplete resistance. Resistance is a multicomponent event, being the result of a battery of escape factors or resistance mechanisms acting at different levels of the infection process. Understanding these will help to detect existing genetic diversity for mechanisms that hamper infection. The combination of different resistance mechanisms into a single cultivar will provide durable resistance in the field. This can be facilitated by the use of in vitro screening methods that allow highly heritable resistance components to be identified, together with adoption of marker-assisted selection techniques.