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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Breeding Resistant Sugarcane for Managing the Stem Borer Diatraea saccharalis: Progress and Prospects for Louisiana

item White, William
item Kimbeng, Collins
item Gravois, Kenneth
item Zhou, Marvellous

Submitted to: International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/3/2009
Publication Date: 3/7/2010
Citation: White, W.H., Kimbeng, C.A., Gravois, K.A., Zhou, M.M. 2010. Breeding Resistant Sugarcane for Managing the Stem Borer Diatraea saccharalis: Progress and Prospects for Louisiana. In: Proceedings of the 27th Congress of the International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists, March 7-11, 1010, Veracruz, Mexico. 2010 CDROM.

Interpretive Summary: Planting sugarcane that is naturally resistant to the sugarcane borer, an insect whose caterpillars tunnel into the stalks of sugarcane plants, is an effective way of managing this important pest. Unfortunately it is not possible to directly select for pest resistance as to do so would place an unrealistic burden on the existing breeding program by requiring the size of the program to be expanded to a size beyond what is practical to sustain. One approach to overcome this restriction is to develop pest resistant sugarcane that can be bred with susceptible sugarcane thus transferring resistance to the resulting offspring without having to expand the size of the existing breeding program. We began such a program in 1986, but to this date have not been successful in identifying a commercially acceptable variety that is also resistant to the borer. We utilized a statistical procedure to evaluate historical data from the commercial breeding program in hopes of determining how we might best modify the program to achieve the desired results. Our analysis identified two approaches to achieving the desired outcome of increasing resistance without encumbering the current breeding program. The two approaches suggested are: 1) select more individuals from the earliest selection stage from pest resistant crosses and 2) increase the number of pest resistant crosses made. Adopting this approach would enhance the commercial breeding program and thus ultimately improve the overall economics of the Louisiana sugarcane industry by providing growers with insect resistant varieties.

Technical Abstract: The stem borer, Diatraea saccharalis (F.), is an important insect pest of sugarcane in Louisiana. Growing resistant varieties is a component of the Integrated Pest Management Program as practiced in Louisiana for managing this insect; however, the release of stem borer resistant varieties is intermittent. In 1986, researchers at the USDA, Agricultural Research Service and LSU Agricultural Center – the two breeding programs in Louisiana – initiated an effort to increase stem borer resistance without encumbering the Louisiana sugarcane variety program (LSVP) with an additional selection trait. In this approach, materials with high levels of stem borer resistance are developed at the USDA, ARS in Houma via a recurrent selection program for borer resistance (RSB) and these are used as parental clones in the two crossing programs of the LSVP. Advancement data from the Louisiana State University AgCenter’s sugarcane breeding program were evaluated to determine our success in incorporating the new resistant germplasm into the progeny advancing through this program. A statistical test using cumulative logit model showed non-significant difference (P > 0.05) in advancement rates between RSB and non-RSB populations, indicating similar advancements. However, because of fewer seedlings derived from crosses with at least one RSB parent, very few clones were assigned a variety designation from the RSB population; only seven in the 1991 to 2002 series. A simulation study was done to determine the effect of increasing selection rates at the different stages of the breeding program. The cumulative logit model was used for the simulation study. Results from this analysis showed that increasing selection rates from Stage I to Stage II will result in a significant increase in the number of clones assigned a variety designation. A greater number of assignments should increase the number of varieties released to growers with resistance to the sugarcane borer.

Last Modified: 10/16/2017
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