Selecting black-spot resistant papaya genotypes derived from backcrossing and hybrids.
Papaya crop is important to Brazilian agribusiness. However, the expansion of papaya cultivation in the country is affected by the absence of commercial cultivars presenting good disease resistance. The black-spot caused by the fungus Asperisporium caricae is the most damaging foliar disease affecting Brazilian papaya crops. The use of genetically resistant cultivars is a promising strategy to reduce the dependence of papaya crops on fungicides. A field split-plot experiment was carried out in the municipality of Linhares, Espírito Santo State, and included 20 hybrids derived from the cross between 14 superior lines and four elite genotypes ('SS72/12', 'SEKATI', 'JS/12' and '41/7'), two commercial cultivars ('Golden' and 'Tainung 01'), and the superior line '36/7', which were evaluated for resistance to black-spot in the fruits and leaves. The treatments were arranged in a randomized block design with six repetitions of three plants per plot. The incidence and severity of black spot in the fruits and leaves were evaluated at three different times in the 2015-2016 crop season. Lines 4, 9, 21, and the parent SEKATI were notable for their capacity to reduce disease severity in the leaves and fruits. Lines 1, 2, 9, 16, and 19, and the parents 'SEKATI' and 'SS-72/12' had reduced disease incidence in their fruits. The most resistant hybrids 'SS-72/12 X 4', 'SS-72/12 X 6', 'SEKATI X 1', 'SEKATI X 2', 'SEKATI X 6', 'SEKATI X 9', and 'SEKATI X 20' presented negative heterosis values for improved black-spot resistance. The current study allowed the selection of black-spot resistant genotypes and hybrids, which presented a significantly reduced disease index in the field.