Breeding Plants for Resistance to Nematodes

H. Roger Boerma, Richard S. Hussey


Plant breeders and nematologists have developed improved cultivars of important crop species with resistance to plant-parasitic nematodes. The effectiveness of these breeding efforts has depended on the availability of efficient screening procedures, identification of adequate sources of durable resistance, nature of the nematode feeding habit, and knowledge of the inheritance of resistance. These factors determine to a large degree the breeding method and potential success of the research. Systematic searches for nematode resistance have identified resistant germplasm lines within crop species or from related species. When the resistance gene(s) is from related species, incongruity barriers or sterility of the resulting hybrids often must be overcome. In these situations, backcrossing is usually necessary to incorporate the resistance gene(s) and recover the desirable commercial traits of the crop species. If the resistance gene(s) is present within the crop species, the choice of breeding method depends on the inheritance of the resistance, type of screening procedure, and other important breeding objectives for the species. In the future, plant molecular biologists and geneticists will make available novel sources of nematode resistance through incorporation of transgenes from other genera. These efforts will likely require conventional breeding strategies before commercial utilization of an improved resistant cultivar. Key words: Cercospora, disease, genetic variation, Glycine max, Heterodera glycines, inheritance, Meloidogyne, multiple species resistance, nematode, resistance, plant parasite, screening.

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