Incorporation of tropical maize germplasm into inbred lines derived from temperate x temperate-adapted tropical line crosses: agronomic and molecular assessment

R S Lewis, M M Goodman
TAG. Theoretical and Applied Genetics. Theoretische und Angewandte Genetik 2003, 107 (5): 798-805
Exotic maize ( Zea mays L.) germplasm may allow for increased flexibility and greater long-term progress from selection if it can be incorporated at high rates into U.S. breeding programs. Crosses were made between a temperate line, NC262A, and each of eight different lines consisting of 100% temperate-adapted tropical germplasm. Pedigree selection was used to generate a set of 148 F(5)S(2) lines that were evaluated in testcrosses with FR992/FR1064 in nine North Carolina environments. Several entries had grain yield, grain moisture content and standability that were comparable to three commercial checks. The best testcrosses outyielded the cross NC262A x FR992/FR1064 by 9.5 to 10.9%, suggesting that a significant amount of tropical germplasm was retained in these lines and that this germplasm combined well with the Stiff Stalk tester. Previous researchers had suggested that tropical alleles could be rapidly lost during inbreeding in populations derived from tropical x temperate bi-parental crosses, leading to the development of lines that possess significantly less than 50% tropical germplasm. F(5)S(5) sub-lines corresponding to the 14 best testcrosses were genotyped at 47 to 49 polymorphic simple sequence repeat (SSR) loci across all ten chromosomes to estimate the amount of tropical germplasm that was retained. The estimated genetic contribution from the tropical parent ranged from 32 to 70%, with the average being 49%. Only two of the 14 lines deviated significantly from a 50%-tropical/50%-temperate ratio, suggesting limited overall selection against germplasm from the tropical parents. These experiments collectively demonstrated that tropical maize germplasm can be incorporated at high rates into a temperate line via pedigree breeding methods in order to derive new inbred lines with acceptable agronomic performance.

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