In vitro evaluation of marker assisted conversion of adapted sorghum varieties into Striga hermonthica resistant versions
Striga has long been recognized to infest staple food crops like sorghum in Ethiopia. This study was designed to introgress Striga-resistance genes into popular and farmer-preferred varieties through marker-assisted backcrossing and to assess resistance based on Striga germination stimulant activity inagar-gel assay (aga). The experiment was arranged in completely randomized design with four replications. Genotypes performance, heritability and genetic advance were analyzed and Germination rate was measured. The progeny showed significant genetic variation for maximum germination distance (mgd), germination rate (gr), and germination index (gi). The mean mgd ranged from 0.0 mm to 29.45 mm and gr ranged from 0.0% to 72.38%.Of the 118 backcrossed lines, 22.9% showed less than 10 mm of mgd and gr of <30%, revealing provision of low germination stimulant/strigolactones production (lgs). There were significant positive (r = 0.4-0.81) correlations showing the roles of these parameters as selection criteria in breeding for resistance. The existence of higher heritability (h2b = 77-83%) and genetic advance (ga = 62-93%) for the germination parameters indicated possibilities for improving resistance against Striga through selection. Genotypes that carry different qtls showed different capacity of producing Striga germination stimulants in the aga. The combined effect of two qtls (lgs2_SBI-05_60404021 and lgs_3_60629027) at a time showed lower Striga germination stimulant activity and better field resistance indicating existence of possible cumulative effects. Thus, the study showed that marker-assisted backcrossing for transfer of lgs qtls from donor into popular and farmers preferred cultivars has the potential to enhance tolerance/resistance to Striga in sorghum.