First and second authors: Department of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin, Madison 53706; and second author: United States Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service.
Early blight of potato (Solanum tuberosum), caused by the foliar fungal pathogen Alternaria solani, is a major cause of economic loss in many potato-growing regions. Genetic resistance offers an opportunity to decrease fungicide usage while maintaining yield and quality. In this study, an early blight resistant clone of the diploid wild species S. raphanifolium was crossed as a male to a haploid (2n=2x) of cultivated potato. Hybrids were backcrossed to both parents. Eight families were created and evaluated for early blight resistance in the field. Families created by backcrossing to the wild species parent exhibited significantly lower relative area under the disease progress curve means than those from backcrossing to the cultivated parent, leading to the conclusion that S. raphanifolium contributes genes for early blight resistance. The mechanism of resistance in S. raphanifolium is unique because A. solani could not be recovered from lesions. Clones were identified with high levels of resistance and adaptation to the photoperiod of a temperate production region.