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Novel source of nematode resistance for Australian sugar industry

Shamsul Bhuiyan: Sugar Research Australia Limited

<div>Root-knot (<em>Meloidogyne javanica</em>) and root-lesion nematodes (<em>Pratylenchus zeae</em>) are the two most important nematode pests of sugarcane in Australia. No nematode resistant varieties are available for the Australian sugar industry. An Australian collaborative introgression program with Chinese institutes has used new sources of wild relatives of sugarcane (<em>Erianthus</em> spp., <em>Saccharum spontaneum</em> and <em>S. robustum</em>), to generate over 100 new hybrid sugarcane families. In 2011, a project was commenced to test the clones from these introgression crosses for nematode resistance; since then approximately 400 clones have been screened. For both nematodes, the basic <em>E. arundinaceus</em> and <em>S. spontaneum</em> clones were significantly more resistant than the clones from the core program (Prob<0.01). In contrast, the basic <em>S. robustum</em> clones were significantly more susceptible to root knot nematode than the core clones but significantly more resistant to root-lesion nematode (Prob<0.01 and Prob<0.05 respectively). With each successive generation of back crossing, using <em>E. arundinaceus</em> and <em>S. spontaneum</em> hybrids, nematode resistance has decreased. However, some individual clones from advanced generations have shown resistance to both nematodes, indicating segregation of the resistance. Individual nematode-resistant clones are being further tested in the glasshouse and field, and may prove to be useful commercial varieties or could be used as parents in the plant breeding program.</div>

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