Experiments were performed to elucidate resistance of glandular-haired alfalfa, Medicago sativa L., to the potato leafhopper, Empoasca fabae (Harris). The primary objective was to examine the potential role of the glandular trichomes and stem lignification for imparting resistance to this pest. During free-choice foliar discoloration experiments, the resistant alfalfa clone FGplh13 expressed lower levels of injury than the susceptible P5373 after 13 d. No-choice tests performed using nymphal potato leafhoppers showed higher levels of mortality associated with the resistant glandular-haired clone FGplh13, and no nymphs survived after 48 h. Additional no-choice experiments using FGplh13 and P5373 alfalfa with the glandular and nonglandular trichomes intact or removed show that mortality of nymphs and adults decreased after removal of the glandular trichomes from FGplh13. Nymphal and adult mortality and nymphal development time did not differ on FGplh13 with the trichomes removed and P5373 with the trichomes intact or removed. First-instar, and possibly second-instar, potato leafhoppers were entrapped by an exudate produced by the glandular trichomes on the FGplh13 alfalfa. Stem lignification and the number of vascular bundles did not differ between FGplh13 and P5373 alfalfas. The glandular trichomes on FGplh13 alfalfa appeared to provide the major host resistance factor, with resistance to adults being chemically based and resistance to nymphs being chemically and mechanically based. To maintain levels of potato leafhopper resistance, breeders would appear to benefit by continuing to select for the expression of the glandular trichome phenotype.
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Vol. 94 • No. 4