New Traits Offer Better Resistance to Curly Top Virus

Kelly MarshallInsecticide, Sugarbeets, USDA

usda-logoThe USDA has developed a new breeding line for sugar beet germ plasm.  The result could be a new variety of sugar crop that can stand up to the sugar beet curly top virus.

The disease is cased by small insects known as “beet leafhoppers” transferring a virus that results in yellow, curled leaves.  Outbreaks of the disease can reduce yields as much as 30 percent.  Insecticides have been helpful, but a naturally resistant pathogen is the preferred method.

ARS plant pathologist, Carl Strausbaugh, along with members of the Beet Sugar Development Foundation have created KDH13, a new germ plasm line.  The research was part of a sugar beet improvement program out of the Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research Lab in Kimberly Idaho.

KDH13 resulted from “gynogenesis,” a tissue-culture technique in which the new sugar beet line began from the regenerated egg-cell tissue of a single, unfertilized female parent plant known to be resistant to the virus. In greenhouse and nursery tests, mature plants of KDH13 outperformed Hilleshog PM90, a top resistant cultivar used for comparison.

Genetically sequenced since, the new germplasm line is available to beet breeders and seed companies as a source of resistance genes for breeding into commercial varieties to improve tolerance to the virus, according to Eujayl. Technical details about KDH13 appeared in the January 2016 issue of the Journal of Plant Registrations.

Read more about this work in the March 2016 issue of AgResearch.