Journal article Open Access

Resistance to ascochyta blights of cool season food legumes

Muehlbauer, Fred J.; Chen, Weidong

Ascochyta blights are the most important diseases of cool season food legumes (peas, lentils, chickpeas, and faba beans) and are found in nearly all production regions. Despite having the same common disease name, the pathogen species differ for each of the crops. These diseases cause serious yield losses under favourable cool and humid conditions. Planting resistant cultivars is often the first choice and most economical means in managing the diseases. Therefore breeding for resistance to ascochyta blights has been an important objective of many cool season food legume research programmes. Systematic screening of germplasm collections at international research centres and other national research programmes have identified useful resistance sources that have been used successfully to breed resistant or tolerant cultivars. Genetic studies have revealed inheritance patterns of the resistance genes. Genetic linkage analyses and QTL mapping have identified molecular markers that could be useful for marker-assisted selection and gene pyramiding. In general, research towards developing resistance to ascochyta blights in cool season food legume faces mainly two limitations: the lack of availability of efficient resistance sources and the lack of a good understanding of the variability of the pathogen populations. Research efforts to alleviate these limitations should be pursued. Given that modern technologies of marker development and genomics are available, further advances in deploying resistance to manage ascochyta blights in this group of legume crops will depend on concerted efforts in developing accurate screening procedures with adequate knowledge of pathogen variability and identification of additional sources of resistance.

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