Cassava is an important culture in Brazil and in the North of the country, and soft root rot has affected root production. The aim of this work was to identify root morphoanatomic and histochemical characters associated with root rot resistance. In areas with no occurrence of the disease, nine cassava genotypes were tested, four of which were resistant, and five were susceptible to root rot. Root harvest was carried out twelve months after sowing, and thickness of suber, suber and cortex, and secondary xylem were measured. Moreover, texture, suber cell layers, lignin content, and lignin monomers content of the portion suber and cortex were analyzed. Also, histochemical tests and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analyses of the roots were performed. Results were subjected to analysis of variance, and means were compared by the Scott-Knott test (p ≤0.05). The characters thickness of suber and cortex at proximal and medium portions, thickness of secondary xylem at medium and apical portions, number of cell layers of suber, thickness of suber, and root texture showed differences among genotypes; however, the characters could not be associated with resistance or susceptibility. There were no differences for: vessel elements, lignin and lignin monomers, and for the histochemical tests with Sudan IV and Lugol. Images of SEM showed differences among genotypes, which could not be associated with resistance or susceptibility. Thus, the characters evaluated cannot be used in selection for cassava resistance to soft root rot in genetic breeding programs.
Anatomy; morphological characterization; genetic breeding; Manihot esculenta