Start Date: May 14, 2008
End Date: May 13, 2013
To identify new sources of insect and disease resistance in sunflower we will evaluate, either under natural infestations (insects) or with artificial inoculations (diseases) a diverse selection of sunflower germplasm, including breeding populations, USDA Plant Introductions, and wild species (obtained from a companion research project 5442-21000-034-00D). For diseases, we will focus on Sclerotinia, downy mildew, and rust. The major insect pests in our studies are the sunflower stem weevil, sunflower moth, and banded sunflower moth. We have developed segregating populations for some insect and diseases, and are developing others. These populations will be used by the project molecular geneticist to identify markers for these traits. Phenotyping will be done at several locations, using either natural insect infestations or artificial inoculations for diseases. Finally, using field plots with natural insect infestations or artificial disease inoculations, and supplemented by marker-assisted selection, we will evaluate the new sources for resistance to the major insect pest species and disease pathogens and transfer that resistance into genetic stocks or advanced USDA germplasm for release to the public.