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Exploiting Genetic Diversity for Blast Disease Resistance Sources in Finger Millet (Eleusine coracana)

E. O. Manyasa, P. Tongoona, P. Shanahan, S. Githiri, H. Ojulong, and S. M. C. Njoroge

August 2019


Finger millet blast, caused by Magnaporthe grisea, is the most important disease of finger millet in East Africa. Diseased plants are significantly less productive, and most cultivars grown by farmers are susceptible to the disease. Fungicide application is an option for disease management; however, smallholder farmers cannot afford the cost. Host plant resistance is therefore the most viable option for managing the disease. Eighty-one finger millet germplasm accessions from East Africa were evaluated for resistance to blast disease, in natural and inoculated trials. Three accessions (G18, G43, and G67) were identified as resistant to all the three progressive stages of blast: leaf, neck, and panicle. However, one (G3) and four (G15, G16, G60, and G70) accessions were only resistant to leaf and neck blast, respectively. Two resistant (G39 and G43) and 12 moderately resistant (G3, G7, G11, G20, G23, G27, G31, G33, G36, G66, G74, and G81) accessions to blast attained grain yields >2.0 t/ha. These accessions varied in time to maturity, plant height, and grain color, which will enable farmers to select accessions appropriate to their target agro-ecological zones and desired end uses. East African finger millet germplasm has high potential as a source of blast-resistant accessions that could be evaluated for direct production and/or for blast-resistance breeding.


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