Phenotypic screening of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp) genotypes for resistance to cowpea viral diseases
Viruses are a major constraint to cowpea production in sub-Saharan Africa. Host plant resistance is the most effective and reliable method of managing viral diseases. In order to identify the source of resistance or tolerance, 38 cowpea genotypes were screened for virus infection under field conditions during the 2016 wet and dry seasons. The experiment was laid out in a randomized complete block design with four replications in both seasons. Disease severity was assessed fortnightly based on disease symptom using 1-5 visual scale (1=symptomless, and 5= very severe symptom). The cowpea genotypes exhibited varying reactions to viral infections with mean disease incidence ranging from 17.7% in the fourth week to 29.2% in the eighth week for the wet season and from 34.4% to 53.1% for the fourth and eighth week, respectively in the dry season. Symptoms observed were leaf mosaic (86.7%), leaf mottling (86.7%), chlorotic spots (34.2%), vein clearing (28.9%), leaf curl (26.3%), necrotic lesions (15.8%) and stunting (10.5%). Symptom severity in the rainy season ranged from symptomless (severity score of 1) in IT10K-819-4 and IT07K-297-13 to moderate symptom (severity score of 2.9) in Apagbaala. However, in the dry season, the symptom severity score ranged from 1.11 (mild symptom) in Marfo Tuya to a score of 2.4 (moderate symptom) in IT07K-298-9, thus demonstrating a significant genotype x season interaction effect. Incidence and severity were significantly higher in the dry season than in the rainy season. There was a strong positive correlation between the disease incidence and disease severity as well as AUDPC and no correlation between the cowpea incidence and the seed yield and plant height in the wet season. There was a negative correlation between the incidence and plant height in the dry season. Six genotypes (IT07-210-1-1, IT07K-297-13, IT08K-193- 14, IT09-456, IT10K-817-3 and IT10K-819-4) exhibited mild symptoms and gave high yields in both seasons, thus demonstrating a stable G x E interaction effect. These disease resistant genotypes could be evaluated further before release to farmers.
Keywords: Area Under Disease Progress Curve, Host resistance, Vigna unguiculata, Viral diseases