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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fargo, North Dakota » Edward T. Schafer Agricultural Research Center » Sunflower and Plant Biology Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #365338

Research Project: Genetic Enhancement of Sunflower Yield and Tolerance to Biotic Stress

Location: Sunflower and Plant Biology Research

Title: Genetic resources of the sunflower crop wild relatives for resistance to sunflower broomrape

item Seiler, Gerald

Submitted to: Helia
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/4/2019
Publication Date: 11/18/2019
Citation: Seiler, G.J. 2019. Genetic resources of the sunflower crop wild relatives for resistance to sunflower broomrape. Helia. 42(71):127-143.

Interpretive Summary: Oilseed sunflower accounts for approximately 12% of the worldwide production of vegetable oils. Sunflower broomrape, a parasitic weed that infects sunflower roots and causes significant yield losses, is a limiting factors to global sunflower production. This parasite is generally found in the drier climates of the Mediterranean region and Western Asia, but is not present in North and South America. Currently, wild species of sunflower are the best source of genes conferring resistance to the various races of sunflower broomrape. Historically, sunflower breeders have been successful in developing broomrape resistant cultivars, but breakdown in resistance is often caused by the appearance of new virulent races. Thus, there is a constant need to search for new resistance genes for global sunflower breeding programs. The sunflower crop wild relatives’ collection, USDA-ARS, National Plant Germplasm System, contains 2,519 accessions and serves as the center of distribution for the global sunflower community. The diversity of wild sunflower species preserved within the USDA-ARS wild crop relatives’ genebank offers breeders a diverse genetic pool from which to discover unique genes for existing and emerging new races of this parasitic weed.

Technical Abstract: One of the most threatening holoparasitic plant species is Orobanche cumana Wallr. (sunflower broomrape), mainly distributed in the Mediterranean region and Western Asia where it exclusively parasitizes sunflowers. Sunflower broomrape (BR) is a very destructive parasitic weed causing significant yield losses under high infestations that can easily spread and is vulnerable to mutations. Broomrape is highly variable, controlled by vertical single dominant resistance genes leading to the rapid and frequent breakdown of resistance. This subsequently leads to the continuing need for new unique genes from multiple sources for controlling new emerging virulent races. The USDA-ARS, National Plant Germplasm System crop wild relatives (CWR) collection contains 2,519 accessions of 53 species with 14 annual species (1641 accessions) and 39 perennial species (878 accessions). This CWR collection provides a vast genetic resource for new BR resistance genes, especially in Europe and the Middle East. Sunflower CWR evaluations for new resistance genes for BR races have demonstrated that they are a substantial reservoir for existing and new emerging virulent races. Resistance to sunflower broomrape, including immunity, has been reported in seven annual and 32 perennial species. These sources discovered in the sunflower CWR confer resistance to new virulent broomrape races F, G, and H, and others that have not been assigned a race designation. Since several of the resistant CWR sources are annual and have the same chromosome number as cultivated sunflower, broomrape resistance genes can be incorporated into hybrid sunflower through interspecific hybridization. The diverse sources of resistance from the CWR provide breeders with the prospect for durable broomrape control through exploiting genetic resistance for existing and newly emerging races.