A novel technique to produce polygenic resistance to anthracnose in Stylosanthes capitata
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An improved cultivar, based on 17 genotypes of S. capitata and six of S.macrocephala, was developed at the wEmbrapa Beef Cattle Research Center, Campo Grande, Brazil. The aim was to create durable, race non-specific resistance to anthracnose controlled by polygenic factors. A mass hybridisation technique was employed to produce a high degree of genetic diversity and sizeable quantities of seed of hybrid-derived progenies of Brazilian and Venezuelan genotypes of S. capitata. Outcrossing resulted in a significant improvement in the forage production of progeny of Venezuelan accessions. The multicross was evaluated in multilocational trials, each representing a large tract of country in the Cerrados ecosystem along a north-south transect from lat.6degrees S to 20degrees S. The genetic shift that occurred in S. capitata was a key element in the formation of the new cultivar. It is a complex mixture of two species, and a recombination of much desired forage traits of Brazilian x Venezuelan genotypes, high forage and seed yields coupled with anthracnose resistance. The new cultivar with its diverse genetic make-up has a wide application in the acid-soil savannas of tropical America. It was released by Embrapa for the Cerrados in 2000.