Genetic Resources and Enhancement Program, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru 502 324, Andhra Pradesh, India
Single-cross F1 hybrid cultivars based on cytoplasmic-nuclear male-sterility (CMS) system have contributed significantly to increasing productivity of pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum). Genetic resistance to downy mildew (Sclerospora graminicola) in parental lines is critical for successful commercial cultivation of a hybrid cultivar. In this study, 46 genetically diverse male-sterile lines (A-lines), including 42 test A-lines, four control A-lines, a commercial hybrid, and a highly susceptible line, were evaluated in disease nurseries at four diverse locations in India and compared with pathotype isolates from the same locations under greenhouse environments. Variability in downy mildew incidence (0 to 100%) due to genetic differences among lines, among pathotypes, and that due to line × pathotype interaction were all highly significant (P < 0.001). In the field experiment, eight of the 42 test A-lines, including 841A (control), that recorded ≤10% disease incidence, were identified as resistant compared with 84 to 100% incidence on the control susceptible line 7042S. Resistance in eight of these test A-lines (863A, ICMA 88004, -94333, -98222, -98111, -92777, and -96666) and 841A was confirmed against the four pathotypes in greenhouse experiments. Cluster analysis of downy mildew incidence data from field and greenhouse experiments, using the Euclidian distance, classified the 48 lines into four distinct groups with the above eight A-lines in the resistant group. These resistant A-lines would be useful in the development of F1 hybrids with stable resistance to diverse pathotypes of downy mildew in India.