Identification of major insect pests of Amaranthus spp. and germplasm screening for insect resistance in Tanzania.
Vegetable and grain amaranths represent a vital source of micronutrients and protein in Asia and Africa. However, various foliar lepidopteran pests and stem-mining weevils hinder amaranth production. Insect-resistant cultivars can enhance the productivity of this crop. Here, we report on the performances of amaranth varieties screened for their resistance to insect pests under the field conditions at The World Vegetable Center stations in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. We conducted two preliminary screening trials with a total of 263 entries from around the world in Taiwan and a third preliminary screening trial with 49 African-indigenous entries in Tanzania. Promising entries from these preliminary trials were collectively evaluated in an advanced screening trial in Tanzania, to identify lines resistant to foliar and stem-boring pests in East Africa. Four entries exhibited moderate resistance to foliar pests: TZ51 and TZ53 (Amaranthus cruentus), TZ34 (A. dubius) and TZ39 (Amaranthus sp.). Five entries showed moderate resistance to stem weevils: TZ06 and TZ27 (A. cruentus), TZ52 (A. graecizans), TZ59 (A. palmeri) and TZ07 (Amaranthus sp.). Lepidopteran pests affecting leaves were reared to adulthood and identified as Spoladea recurvalis (Crambidae), Spodoptera exigua (Noctuidae) and Spodoptera littoralis (Noctuidae). Stem weevil larvae were also reared and identified as: Neocleonus sannio Herbst, Gasteroclisus pr. rhomboidalis Boheman, Hypolixus pr. haerens Boheman and Baradine sp. (Curculionidae). These results highlight key amaranth pests in East Africa and identify insect-resistant entries that will be useful in breeding programmes and resistance studies.