Quantitative Inheritance of Sclerotinia Stem Rot Resistance in Brassica napus and Relationship to Cotyledon and Leaf Resistances

Muhammad Azam Khan, Wallace Cowling, Surinder Singh Banga, Ming Pei You, Vikrant Tyagi, Baudh Bharti, Martin J. Barbetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Sclerotinia sclerotiorum is a necrotrophic fungus causing devastating stem rot and associated yield losses of canola/rapeseed (Brassica napus) worldwide, including in Australia. Developing host resistance against Sclerotinia stem rot is critical if this disease in canola/rapeseed is to be successfully managed, as cultural or chemical control options provide only partial or sporadic control. Three B. napus breeding populations, C2, C5 and C6, including the parents, F1, F2, BC1P1, and BC2P2, were used in a field study with an objective of exploring the inheritance pattern of disease resistance (based on stem lesion length [SLL]) and the genetic relationships of disease with stem diameter (SD) or days to first flowering (DTF), and to compare these new adult plant stem resistances against S. sclerotiorum with those of seedling (cotyledon and leaf) resistances in earlier studies. Heritability (broad sense) of SLL was 0.57 and 0.73 for population C2 at 3 and 5 weeks postinoculation and 0.21 for population C5 at 5 weeks postinoculation. Additive genetic variance was evident within all 3 populations for DTF but not for SD. Narrow-sense heritability for DTF was 0.48 (C2), 0.42 (C5), and 0.32 (C6). SD, DTF, and SLL were all inherited independently, with no significant genetic covariance between traits in bivariate analysis. Genetic variance for SLL in populations C2 and C5 was entirely nonadditive, and there was significant nonadditive genetic covariance of SLL at 3 and 5 weeks postinoculation. Generation means analysis in population C2 supported the conclusion that complex epistatic interactions controlled SLL. Several C2 and C5 progeny showed high adult plant stem resistance, which may be critical in developing enhanced stem resistance in canola/rapeseed. Although population C6 showed no genetic variation for SLL resistance in this study, it showed significant nonadditive genetic variance at the cotyledon and leaf stages in earlier studies. We conclude that host resistance varies across different plant growth stages, and breeding must be targeted for resistance at each growth stage. In populations C2, C5, and C6, resistance to S. sclerotiorum in stem, leaf, and cotyledon was always controlled by nonadditive effects such as complex epistasis or dominance. Overall, our findings in relation to the quantitative inheritance of Sclerotinia stem rot resistance, together with the new high-level resistances identified, will enable breeders to select/develop genotypes with enhanced resistances to S. sclerotiorum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-136
JournalPlant Disease
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


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