The green peach aphid [Myzus persicae (Sulzer)] is an important pest of amaranth grown for leaf consumption (i.e., leafy amaranth) in the tropics. Aphids reduce the amount of fresh leaf yield of amaranth and the value of leafy amaranth as aphid-infested leaves are not marketable. Our objective was to evaluate Amaranthus species selected by a breeding program in East Africa to develop cultivars for leaf consumption with resistance to M. persicae. We focused on antibiosis to determine whether varieties of Amaranthus spp. could be grown without producing an aphid population. Artificial infestations of aphids were placed on multiple selections of three species of Amaranthus: two selections of A. blitum, four selections of A. hybridus and one selection of A. hypochondriacus. Aphid populations were assessed over a 5-wk period. Evaluations of vegetative yield, leaf damage symptoms, and specific leaf area (SLA) were made of the seven selections at the end of this experiment. Aphid populations assessed 49 d after planting differed significantly (P ≤ 0.001) among the amaranth species and within selections of the same species.The selections of A. blitum had the lowest aphid populations, and A. hybridus had the highest populations. Selections of A. hybridus produced the most marketable leaves (i.e., aphid free).The fresh weight of A. blitum were the lowest of the seven selections, whereas A. hybridus had the greatest fresh leaf weight. Implications of these finding for further promotion of amaranth breeding are discussed related to pest management for leaf production.
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Vol. 113 • No. 3