Sugarcane aphids are the most important concern in sorghum production because outbreaks can occur rapidly and unexpectedly, particularly in locations where infestations occur alongside with sorghum bloom. Thus, Dr. Szczepaniec designed the study and conducted it for two weeks and 6 weeks post-emergence and were exposed to sugarcane aphid infections.
"We found that the seedling sorghum expressed significantly more genes involved in natural plant resistance to pests than sorghum at the cusp of panicle emergence. This was true across varieties," Dr. Szczepaniec said. "More importantly, we found a suite of transcriptional changes in the resistant variety that were weak or absent in the susceptible sorghum. Specifically, the aphid-resistant variety exposed to sugarcane aphids bolstered several genes involved in natural plant resistance to pests, and this response was particularly robust in the two-week plants," she added.
Based on the results, the researchers recommended early planting, using resistant sorghum varieties, and intensifying scouting and sampling, especially during sorghum flowering.
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