Genetic basis of wheat resistance to the wheat stem sawfly
Varella, Andrea Correa
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The wheat stem sawfly, Cephus cinctus Norton (WSS), has been a serious pest of wheat in the Northern Great Plains of North America for decades. Host plant resistance has been most consistently effective and is the foundation for integrated pest management of the WSS; therefore, the main objective of this research was to enhance the repertoire of genetic resistance to WSS available for exploitation by wheat breeders through marker-assisted selection (MAS). We used two strategies to achieve our goal. First, we better characterized resistance provided by previously identified quantitative trait loci (QTL). For that, we developed populations of near-isogenic lines (NILs) polymorphic for resistance QTLs on chromosomes 2D (Qwss.msub-2D), 3B (Qss-msub-3BL) and 4A (Qwss.msub-4A.1). Near-isogenic lines were tested greenhouse cage trials and in the field at both WSS-infested and uninfested locations. The Qwss.msub-4A.1 was shown to affect host plant attractiveness to foraging females, but did not change oviposition preference after females landed on the wheat stem. The Qwss.msub-2D and Qss-msub-3BL where shown to be associated with decreased preference for oviposition. The Qss-msub-3BL was also shown to be associated with temporal patterns of stem solidness expression, with the allele derived from the spring wheat cultivar Conan providing decreased infestation, high neonatal mortality, high levels of early stem solidness, and a rapid rate of pith retraction during stem maturation. Together, these studies characterized the effect of each one of these QTLs on WSS resistance. This information will help wheat breeders and entomologists to better integrate management strategies to reduce damage caused by the WSS. Our second strategy, involved the identification of new marker-trait associations for WSS resistance. For that, we used a panel of 244 elite spring wheat lines from North America. By conducting an association mapping study we were able to identify several QTLs for WSS resistance, including QTLs for early and late stem solidness, heading date, stem cutting, and larval mortality. This study showed that improvements in WSS management may be obtained using alleles that already exist in elite germplasm. Collectively, our research provided wheat breeders with a better tool kit for improving resistance to the WSS.