A new high throughput method for screening for root-knot and root-lesion nematode resistance in sugarcane : final report 2019/401
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Root-lesion nematodes (Pratylenchus zeae) and root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne javanica) are the two most important nematode pathogens of sugarcane in Australia. They cause loses of over $82 million to the Australian sugar industry annually (Stirling et al. 2011). Sugarcane varieties have some resistance to root-knot nematodes, but no resistance is present in sugarcane varieties to root lesion nematodes. The most effective way for farmers to maintain high yields on soil that contains nematodes is to develop resistant varieties. The current screening method that is used to identify germplasm that contains resistance takes up to 16 weeks to obtain a result. A new screening method was developed in this project which takes 3 weeks to determine if a clone is resistant to or susceptible to root-knot and root lesion nematodes. This new method has the potential to reduce the cost of screening for nematode resistance and to increase the number of clones that can be screened in a year. This has an impact on the sugarcane breeding program as the more clones that are screened the faster a new resistant variety can be produced. The project also identified resistance in new wild germplasm, Saccharum spontaneum and Erianthus arundinaceus. These clones have the potential to be used in an introgression breeding program to introgress resistance from the wild germplasm into sugarcane varieties. The new screening method developed in this project could potentially speed up the introgression process by enabling larger numbers of clones to be screened thus increasing the chance of success.