β-Aminobutyric acid (BABA) treatment of pearl millet [Pennisetum glaucum (L) R Br] seeds influenced seedling vigour and protected the seedlings from downy mildew disease caused by the oomycetous biotropic fungus Sclerospora graminicola (Sacc) Schroet. Of the different concentrations of BABA tested, viz 25, 50, 75 and 100 mM, seeds treated with 50 mM for 6 h resulted in the maximum of 1428 seedling vigour and showed 23% disease incidence in comparison with the control which recorded a seedling vigour of 1260 and 98% disease incidence ie 75% protection from disease. Seeds treated with BABA when challenged for downy mildew disease using zoospores of S graminicola required 48 h after inducer treatment to develop maximum resistance. Durability of induced resistance was also tested in plants raised from seeds treated with the inducer and identified as resistant, by second challenge inoculation with the downy mildew pathogen at tillers and inflorescence axes. Reduced disease incidence of only 10 and 12% in these plants, compared with 71 and 76% disease in control plants inoculated at the tillers and inflorescence axes, respectively, suggested that resistance induced in seeds with BABA remained operative through vegetative and reproductive growth of pearl millet plants. Induction of resistance by seed treatment with BABA enhanced vegetative growth, viz height, fresh weight, leaf area and tillering, and reproductive growth, viz early flowering, number of productive ear heads and 1000 seed weight. Studies on induction of resistance in different cultivars of pearl millet with varying resistance reaction to downy mildew indicated that the protection offered by BABA is independent of the nature of cultivars used and not dependent on their constitutive resistance.
© 2001 Society of Chemical Industry