Eight proprietary genotypes of glandular-haired alfalfa, Medicago sativa L., supplied by two different companies, were compared for the degree and types of resistance to the potato leafhopper, Empoasca fabae (Harris), and hopperburn. A tube cage no-choice bioassay was developed to test leafhopper mortality, feeding, settling preferences, severity of hopperburn symptoms (in this case, defined as both yellowing and stem growth reduction), and trichome density and type on feeding sites. Leafhopper mortality was both strongly and significantly associated with feeding and leaf trichome density; decreased hopperburn symptom severity was weakly, although significantly, associated with increased mortality. To quantify hopperburn in terms of both yellowing and stem growth reduction, we developed a ranking system that reduces overall hopperburn expression to a single number that considers the varying responses to both types of symptoms. Great variability in leafhopper settling, leafhopper mortality, and stem glandular trichome density was detected among alfalfa genotypes, suggesting that genotypic differences may be based on the concentration and/or chemical constituency of the trichome exudates. We postulate that, among variably resistant genotypes of glandular-haired alfalfa, differences among leafhopper responses and hopperburn severity are linked to forced movement from the stems to the leaves as refuge feeding sites. Principal component analysis was performed to reduce the 10 variables down to five biologically significant factors. Scores for these factors were then used to develop resistance indices for potato leafhopper resistance, hopperburn resistance, and an overall glandular-haired alfalfa resistance index.
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Vol. 95 • No. 2