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Hybrid Breeding for MLN Resistance: Heterosis, Combining Ability, and Hybrid Prediction

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Published: 8 April 2020
 by  MDPI
 in Plants

Abstract: Prior knowledge on heterosis and quantitative genetic parameters on maize lethal necrosis (MLN) can help the breeders to develop numerous resistant or tolerant hybrids with optimum resources. Our objectives were to (1) estimate the quantitative genetic parameters for MLN disease severity, (2) investigate the efficiency of the prediction of hybrid performance based on parental per se and general combining ability (GCA) effects, and (3) examine the potential of hybrid prediction for MLN resistance or tolerance based on markers. Fifty elite maize inbred lines were selected based on their response to MLN under artificial inoculation. Crosses were made in a half diallel mating design to produce 307 F1 hybrids. All hybrids were evaluated in MLN quarantine facility in Naivasha, Kenya for two seasons under artificial inoculation. All 50 inbreds were genotyped with genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) SNPs. The phenotypic variation was significant for all traits and the heritability was moderate to high. We observed that hybrids were superior to the mean performance of the parents for disease severity (−14.57%) and area under disease progress curve (AUDPC) (14.9%). Correlations were significant and moderate between line per se and GCA; and mean of parental value with hybrid performance for both disease severity and AUDPC value. Very low and negative correlation was observed between parental lines marker based genetic distance and heterosis. Nevertheless, the correlation of GCA effects was very high with hybrid performance which can suggests as a good predictor of MLN resistance. Genomic prediction of hybrid performance for MLN is high for both traits. We therefore conclude that there is potential for prediction of hybrid performance for MLN. Overall, the estimated quantitative genetic parameters suggest that through targeted approach, it is possible to develop outstanding lines and hybrids for MLN resistance.
Keywords: maize lethal necrosis / combining ability / heterosis / genomic prediction / resistance

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