In a breeding programme to combine quantitative resistance to two important potato pathogens, Phytophthora infestans causing late blight in foliage and Qlobodera pallida (the cream potato cyst-nematode), tetraploid (4 ×) off spring were obtained by crossing dihaploids, mainly as females, with tetraploids. Glasshouse and field tests in the first and second tuber-years showed that most of the off spring of highly blight-resistant dihaploids had high resistance to P. infestans. Two such dihaploids, PDH 182 and PDH 247, crossed with a tetraploid selected for high general combining ability for potato cyst-nematode (PCN) resistance, gave off spring all of which were highly blight resistant. About one third also had high PCN resistance.
Detached leaflet tests were used for rapid blight resistance screening of other progenies from dihaploid × 4 × crosses in their seedling year. Differences were found in the effects of 4 × parents on the mean resistances of progenies from blight-resistant dihaploids.
The results also showed differences between dihaploids in their effectiveness in transmitting blight resistance to 4 × offspring. This could be due to differences in the mode of unreduced female gamete formation, i.e. first division restitution or second division restitution (SDR). If all the unreduced gametes were produced by SDR, the differences could be due to differences in homozygosity between dihaploids with respect to blight resistance genes.
The dihaploid × 4 × crosses gave few offspring per pollination. The few seedlings obtained may be offset by a higher frequency with the required characters. Since fewer seedlings would have to be grown in order to find the required combination of characters, savings could be made in planting and resistance-testing facilities over those required in conventional breeding.
The tetraploid hybrids obtained can be used in a second cycle of breeding in three ways simultaneously: by crossing with other tetraploids, by crossing with dihaploids selected for complementary characters and to produce dihaploids with combined resistances.