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New alfalfa variety resists ravenous local pest

Date:
April 24, 2014
Source:
Cornell University
Summary:
A new alfalfa variety with some resistance against the alfalfa snout beetle, which has ravaged alfalfa fields in nine northern New York counties and across the St. Lawrence River in Canada, has been released by plant breeders. There are no other known alfalfa snout beetle infestations in North America, but the pesky beetle has been spreading. The snout beetle’s larvae feed on and damage the alfalfa plant’s roots, limiting yields for this major livestock feed.

Cornell University plant breeders have released a new alfalfa variety with some resistance against the alfalfa snout beetle, which has ravaged alfalfa fields in nine northern New York counties and across the St. Lawrence River in Canada.

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There are no other known alfalfa snout beetle infestations in North America, but the pesky beetle has been spreading. The snout beetle's larvae feed on and damage the alfalfa plant's roots, limiting yields for this major livestock feed.

"We are the only ones who can work on [this pest], because it is so regional," said Don Viands, professor of plant breeding and genetics and director of the Forage Breeding Project.

The new resistant cultivar, called Seedway 9558 SBR, has been in development since 2003, along with six other populations. But Seedway 9558 SBR has provided the most resistance while also maintaining the highest yields.

On a scale of one to five, where one represents little to no root-feeding damage and five is severe root-feeding damage, Seedway 9558 SBR scored a 2.9.

"This initial variety is better than anything else, but we feel we can still do better," Viands said. "We are trying to get a variety that is at least twice as good as this one."

For effective control, the resistant alfalfa should be planted with a larvae-killing nematode that has been studied and released by Elson Shields, professor of entomology, said Viands.

"We are making significant progress in developing resistance, but it has been very slow," Viands said. The first-year base crop for Seedway 9558 SBR was 13 percent resistant, compared with 38 percent after seven cycles. "Normally it takes four to five cycles to develop resistance, but this [alfalfa snout beetle resistance] may have multiple genes, so it is taking time," Viands added, noting that it is still unknown exactly what mechanism allows the plant to deter the beetles.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cornell University. The original article was written by Melissa Osgood. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cornell University. "New alfalfa variety resists ravenous local pest." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140424124953.htm>.
Cornell University. (2014, April 24). New alfalfa variety resists ravenous local pest. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140424124953.htm
Cornell University. "New alfalfa variety resists ravenous local pest." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140424124953.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

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