Relationship of Resistance to Meloidogyne chitwoodi (race 2) and M. hapla in Alfalfa

Per H. McCord


In the Pacific Northwest, alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is host to two species of root-knot nematodes, including race 2 of the Columbia root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne chitwoodi) and the northern root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne hapla). In addition to the damage caused to alfalfa itself by M. hapla, alfalfa’s host status to both species leaves large numbers of nematodes available to damage rotation crops, of which potato is the most important. A nematode-resistant alfalfa germplasm release, W12SR2W1, was challenged with both nematode species, to determine the correlation, if any, of resistance to nematode reproduction. Thirty genotypes were screened in replicated tests with M. chitwoodi race 2 or M. hapla, and the reproductive factor (RF) was calculated. The distribution of natural log-transformed RF values was skewed for both nematode species, but more particularly for M. chitwoodi race 2, where more than half the genotypes screened were non-hosts. Approximately 30 percent of genotypes were non-hosts or very poor hosts of M. hapla, but RF values for M. hapla on susceptible genotypes were generally much higher than RF values for genotypes susceptible to M. chitwoodi race 2. The Spearman rank correlation was positive (0.52) and significant (p-value = 0.003), indicating there is some relationship between resistance to these two species of root-knot nematode in alfalfa. However the relationship is not strong enough to suggest genetic loci for resistance are identical, or closely linked. Breeding for resistance or immunity will require screening with each species separately, or with different DNA markers if marker-assisted breeding is pursued. A number of genotypes were identified which are non-hosts to both species. These plants will be intercrossed to develop a non-host germplasm.

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