Resistance to blast (Magnaporthe grisea) in a mini-core collection of finger millet germplasm
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Blast caused by Pyricularia grisea [teleomorph: Magnaporthe grisea] is an economically important and widespread disease of finger millet in the world. Host resistance is the most economical and effective means of combating this disease as finger millet is predominantly grown by resource-poor and marginal farmers. At the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), we evaluated a finger millet mini-core collection of 80 germplasm accessions (about 1 % of the total germplasm collection representing major trait variability) for blast resistance both in the field and greenhouse. Field evaluation was done using a refined screening technique that included new improved rating scales for leaf, neck and finger infection. Sixty six of the 80 accessions showed combined resistance to leaf, neck and finger blast in two seasons (2009 and 2010) of field screening. A highly significant and positive correlation was found between neck and finger blast ratings (r = 0.92), whereas small but significant correlations were found between leaf blast and neck blast (r = 0.25) and between leaf blast and finger blast (r = 0.30). These accessions were also screened for leaf blast resistance in the greenhouse by artificial inoculation of seedlings to confirm field observations. Fifty-eight of the 80 accessions were resistant to leaf blast in the greenhouse screen as well. These resistant accessions represented one wild (africana) and four cultivated races (vulgaris, plana, elongate and compacta) of finger millet that originated from 13 countries in Asia and Africa and exhibited considerable diversity for agronomic traits, such as maturity period, plant height and panicle type. These blast resistant accessions from the mini-core collection would be useful in finger millet disease resistance breeding programs.
KeywordsBlast disease Finger millet Host plant resistance Mini-core collection and rating scales
The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support from the BMZ/GTZ project on “Sustainable conservation and utilization of genetic resources of two underutilized crops-finger millet and foxtail millet-to enhance productivity, nutrition and income in Africa and Asia” funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Germany to carry out this activity. The authors are also grateful to Mr. V. P. Rao, Cereals pathology, ICRISAT for his support in field and greenhouse experiments.
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