The resistance of a diverse range of Trifolium species (clovers) to a highly virulent bluegreen aphid (BGA, Acyrthosiphon kondoi Shinji) population (Urrbrae 2011) collected in South Australia was assessed in greenhouse and field experiments, with the aims of determining the potential impact of this insect pest on biomass and identifying resistant genotypes for future plant-breeding activities. Resistance to BGA was found in populations of clovers that show some level of outcrossing—white clover (T. repens L.), rose clover (T. hirtum All.), crimson clover (T. incarnatum L.) and red clover (T. pratense L.)—and in one entry of the inbreeding subspecies of subterranean clover, T. subterraneum L. subsp. subterraneum (Katzn. and Morley). Resistance was not found in T. s. brachycalycinum (Katzn. and Morley) or T. s. yanninicum (Katzn. and Morley). In a greenhouse experiment, damage from BGA resulted in forage yield penalties of 72–100% when aphids were inoculated at 14 days after sowing and 13−74% when inoculated at 42 days after sowing, showing that in optimum conditions BGA can be a serious pest of clovers. Observations of severe damage caused by BGA in two regenerating field trials in southern New South Wales confirmed that field damage could occur in seasons favourable to aphid growth and reproduction. The severe damage that BGA can cause to clovers, and the sources of resistance we found, suggest that breeding for BGA resistance in clovers is warranted and feasible.
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Vol. 67 • No. 9