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Maize diversity for fall armyworm resistance in a warming world

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Currently, maize (Zea mays L.) production is under threat from climate change, drought, and pests such as fall armyworm (FAW) [Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)]. Since its first detection outside of its native range in 2016, FAW has spread into 76 nations across Africa and Asia adversely affecting maize production and, in turn, the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers. Thus, there is a strong need for the development of cost-effective and biologically based integrated pest management (IPM) practices including host-plant resistance (HPR). However, most of the commercial maize cultivars have lost some defensive traits through selective breeding for yield during domestication. The majority of the commercially cultivated hybrids and cultivars in Asia and Africa are highly susceptible to FAW. Therefore, this review summarizes information about various maize landraces, native germplasm, and crop wild relatives (CWRs) possessing FAW resistance traits and about their potential resistance mechanisms, namely antibiosis, antixenosis, and tolerance. There is clear evidence of FAW resistance acting through diverse mechanisms in several maize landraces, germplasm lines, native populations, and CWRs such as Antigua race, FAW Tuxpeno, Zapalote Chico 2451F, Doce Flor da Serra, FAWCC (C5), CMS 14C, PopG (C2), MpSWCB-4, Mp708, Mp 704, CML 67, and FAW 7050, as well as a few species of teosinte and Tripsacum L. Further, a scheme that outlines strategies and approaches for prebreeding and their introgression into elite cultivars for developing FAW-resistant maize is proposed as a possible way forward.

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