Development and evaluation of glycine max germplasm lines with quantitative resistance to sclerotinia sclerotiorum

Megan McCaghey, Jaime Willbur, Ashish Ranjan, Craig R. Grau, Scott Chapman, Brian Diers, Carol Groves, Mehdi Kabbage, Damon L. Smith

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28 Scopus citations


Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, the causal agent of Sclerotinia stem rot, is a devastating fungal pathogen of soybean that can cause significant yield losses to growers when environmental conditions are favorable for the disease. The development of resistant varieties has proven difficult. However, poor resistance in commercial cultivars can be improved through additional breeding efforts and understanding the genetic basis of resistance. The objective of this project was to develop soybean germplasm lines that have a high level of Sclerotinia stem rot resistance to be used directly as cultivars or in breeding programs as a source of improved Sclerotinia stem rot resistance. Sclerotinia stem rot-resistant soybean germplasm was developed by crossing two sources of resistance, W04-1002 and AxN-1-55, with lines exhibiting resistance to Heterodera glycines and Cadophora gregata in addition to favorable agronomic traits. Following greenhouse evaluations of 1,076 inbred lines derived from these crosses, 31 lines were evaluated for resistance in field tests during the 2014 field season. Subsequently, 11 Sclerotinia stem rot resistant breeding lines were moved forward for field evaluation in 2015, and seven elite breeding lines were selected and evaluated in the 2016 field season. To better understand resistance mechanisms, a marker analysis was conducted to identify quantitative trait loci linked to resistance. Thirteen markers associated with Sclerotinia stem rot resistance were identified on chromosomes 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19. Our markers confirm previously reported chromosomal regions associated with Sclerotinia stem rot resistance as well as a novel region of chromosome 16. The seven elite germplasm lines were also re-evaluated within a greenhouse setting using a cut petiole technique with multiple S. sclerotiorum isolates to test the durability of physiological resistance of the lines in a controlled environment. This work presents a novel and comprehensive classical breeding method for selecting lines with physiological resistance to Sclerotinia stem rot and a range of agronomic traits. In these studies, we identify four germplasm lines; 91–38, 51–23, SSR51–70, and 52–82B exhibiting a high level of Sclerotinia stem rot resistance combined with desirable agronomic traits, including high protein and oil contents. The germplasm identified in this study will serve as a valuable source of physiological resistance to Sclerotinia stem rot that could be improved through further breeding to generate high-yielding commercial soybean cultivars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1495
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
StatePublished - Aug 31 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was graciously supported by the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board, North Central Soybean

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 McCaghey, Willbur, Ranjan, Grau, Chapman, Diers, Groves, Kabbage and Smith.


  • Breeding
  • Disease resistance
  • Glycine max
  • QTL
  • Sclerotinia sclerotiorum
  • Sclerotinia stem rot


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