Progress towards clover cyst nematode resistant white clover


  • J. van den Bosch
  • C.F. Mercer



Clover cyst nematode (Heterodera trifolii) reduces growth and nutrient uptake of white clover (Trifolium repens) in New Zealand, and breeding resistant cultivars is the preferred control method for ecological and economic reasons. Resistant and susceptible selections were taken from a wide range of white clover seedlines. Selected plants were intercrossed and reselected over two cycles of selection. Cysts per gram of root dry weight (cysts/ g) was the measure of resistance used, with low cysts/g plants being more resistant. The mean cysts/ g value of the progenies from resistant parents was 69% of the mean value of the progenies from susceptible parents in the first generation, and 38% in the second generation. Root weights were similar, while the resistant selections had 58% and 34% (first and second generations respectively) of the number of cysts in the susceptible selections. There were no immune plants (0 cysts) in the first generation and only two in the second. Counts were made of cysts, eggs per cyst and eggs per plant on clones of two resistant and two susceptible genotypes. The resistant genotypes had lower counts than the susceptible genotypes in terms of cysts per plant (means of 6 cf. 108), eggs per cyst (11 cf. 21) and eggs per plant (35 cf. 1650). The differences in numbers of cysts between resistant and susceptible lines increased during two generations of selection, supporting earlier results that indicated that progress in breeding for resistance was possible. Furthermore, the resistance is also acting on clover cyst nematode egg production which would further reduce recruitment to later generations of clover cyst nematode. Keywords: breeding, Heterodera trifolii, resistance, screening, selection, Trifolium repens