The pink stem borer, Sesamia nonagrioides (Lefebvre), is one of the most important insect pests of maize (Zea mays L.) in northwestern Spain. The objectives of this work were to evaluate, at different times during the growth of maize, structural traits related to the entry point and tissues on which larvae feed and to determine the relationship between these structural traits and the stem borer resistance. Six inbred lines with different levels of stem resistance to S. nonagrioides were evaluated in several trials. Potential structural resistance factors included rind and pith puncture resistance (RPR and PPR), rind thickness, length of the meristematic area (LMA), and pith parenchyma interlumen thickness (PPIT). Surprisingly, the inbred lines that showed the strongest stalks, EP42 and EP47, were not stem resistant to pink stem borer attack, while the stem resistant inbreds A509, CM151, and PB130 were among the least resistant to rind puncture. There were no significant differences among resistant and susceptible inbreds for the rind thickness. However, the susceptible inbred EP42 had the softest internode pith, and the resistant inbred PB130 showed the hardest, as was expected. Susceptible inbred lines in general showed higher values for the LMA, while the PPIT was important for individual inbreds. The results suggest that the usefulness of these characters as estimators of pink stem borer resistance is limited to some genotypes. Besides, even among those genotypes, other mechanisms of resistance that do not involve stalk strength could be present. Among the traits considered, the LMA was the most promising as an indicator of resistance to pink stem borer, although further experimentation is necessary.
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Vol. 96 • No. 5