Breeding Rootstocks Resistant to Aggressive Root-knot Nematodes

The objectives for this study are to breed, evaluate, and introduce rootstocks that are resistant to aggressive root-knot nematodes, resulting in improved varieties with adaptation to California viticulture. To achieve this objective, our goal was to evaluate the root-knot nematode resistance of 12,000 grape rootstock seedlings and select resistant seedlings for advancement to the field. We will make crosses specifically for the breeding of rootstocks resistant to aggressive root-knot nematodes.

The USDA grape rootstock improvement program, based at the Plant Genetic Resources Unit, is breeding grape rootstocks resistant to aggressive root-knot nematodes. We define aggressive root-knot nematodes as those which feed on and damage the rootstocks Freedom and Harmony. In 2004 we screened 5124 candidate grape rootstock seedlings for resistance to aggressive root-knot nematodes. We select only those seedlings which completely suppress nematode reproduction and show zero nematode egg masses. These
selected seedlings are propagated and then planted into the vineyard. We have 81 nematode resistant selections that will be ready for vineyard planting in spring 2004. In 2004 we planted 89 nematode resistant rootstock selections in the vineyard. These selections were identified in nematode resistance screening in 2003 and 2002. In 2004 we pollinated 1500 clusters of crosses specifically aimed at the breeding of improved rootstocks with resistance to aggressive root-knot nematodes.