The hypothesis that cyanogenic potential in cassava roots deters polyphagous insects in the field is relevant to current efforts to reduce or eliminate the cyanogenic potential in cassava. To test this hypothesis, experiments were conducted in the field under natural selection pressure of the polyphagous root feeder Cyrtomenus bergi Froeschner (Hemiptera: Cydnidae). A number of cassava varieties (33) as well as 13 cassava siblings and their parental clone, each representing a determined level of cyanogenic potential (CNP), were scored for damage caused by C. bergi and related to CNP and nonglycosidic cyanogens, measured as hydrogen cyanide. Additionally, 161 low-CNP varieties (< 50 ppm hydrogen cyanide, fresh weight) from the cassava germplasm core collection at Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT) were screened for resistance/tolerance to C. bergi. Low root damage scores were registered at all levels of CNP. Nevertheless, CNP and yield (or root size) partly explained the damage in cassava siblings (r2 = 0.82) and different cassava varieties (r2 = 0.42), but only when mean values of damage scores were used. This relation was only significant in one of two crop cycles. A logistic model describes the underlying negative relation between CNP and damage. An exponential model describes the underlying negative relation between root size and damage. Damage, caused by C. bergi feeding, released nonglycosidic cyanogens, and an exponential model fits the underlying positive relation. Fifteen low-CNP clones were selected for potential resistance/tolerance against C. bergi.
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Vol. 96 • No. 6