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Pepper Lends Its Nematode Resistance to Double-Cropped Vegetables

The Tomato Magazine
December 2004

The Charleston Belle pepper developed by the Agricultural Research Service continues to impress researchers with its ability to resist major root-knot nematodes afflicting the southern United States.

A recent ARS study both confirmed the effectiveness and heat tolerance of Charleston Belle's resistance gene and also found that the gene benefits nematode-susceptible vegetables rotated with the pepper.

In the study, led by plant pathologist Judy Thies of the ARS U.S. Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston, S.C., Charleston Belle dramatically outperformed its susceptible parent, Keystone Resistant Giant, in field tests. Not only did it repel nematodes, it also protected subsequently planted (double-cropped) susceptible squash and cucumber crops.

The research-described in this month's issue of Plant Disease-showed that Charleston Belle exhibited minimal root galling from nematode attack. Charleston Belle also helped the double-cropped cucumber and squash plants produce bigger yields and heavier fruit than when the two were grown following the Keystone variety.

The work was conducted at Clemson University's Edisto Research and Education Center in Blackville, S.C., and at the ARS Crop Protection and Management Research Unit in Tifton, Ga. ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.

Released in 1997 by ARS Vegetable Laboratory geneticist Richard Fery, Charleston Belle peppers get their resistance from the N gene, which was obtained from a resistant pimiento pepper and placed into Keystone cultivars to create Charleston Belle. The gene controls resistance to three major root-knot nematode species: southern (Meloidogyne incognita), peanut (M. arenaria) and javanese (M. javanica).

The pepper's resistance may aid growers who soon must fight root-knot nematodes without use of methyl bromide. Plans are in place for the eventual banning of the product because of its ozone-depleting properties.

Other, independent studies have shown that nematode-resistant vegetable plants-notably tomatoes-can help shield double-cropped vegetables from nematode attack. In the ARS study, cucumber yields were 87 percent heavier and numbers of fruit were 85 percent higher when grown after Charleston Belle than after Keystone. Squash yields were 55 percent heavier, with 50 percent more fruit.

For more information, contact NewsService@ars.usda.gov; www.ars.usda.gov/news; phone (301) 504-1638; fax (301) 504-1648.

© 2005 Columbia Publishing

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