Genetic control of the performance of maize hybrids using complex pedigrees and microsatellite markers
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This study seeks to quantify the importance of epistatic effects on the heterosis of maize using complex pedigrees in a single model of the so-called bi-, tri-, and tetra-alleles in an analysis with and without information from microsatellite markers. To this end, 51 inbred lines were sampled from different backgrounds, obtaining 6 double cross hybrids, 14 triple cross hybrids, and 58 single cross hybrids, for a total of 78 hybrids. Seventy-nine microsatellite markers were used in the genotyping of the 51 lines. These markers were distributed throughout the 10 linkage groups in maize. This information was used to construct an information matrix on kinship. The mixed models and restricted maximum likelihood approaches were used to estimate additive, dominant and epistatic effects. It was observed that the dominant by dominant epistasis was the most important effect related to genetic control of the heterosis in maize. Also, our study demonstrated that it is possible to exploit a large amount of information when we jointly analyze simple, double, and three-way cross hybrids under the same model. Using this approach, it is possible to dissect heterosis into several components and to adopt the best crossbreeding strategy based on the importance of each component. Additionally, it was possible to verify that the use of molecular markers improves the accuracy of calculating the epistatic and dominance effects. Thus, using the current state-of-art in quantitative genetics and statistical methods the concept of crossbreeding can be expanded to frontiers that are far beyond the traditional general and specific combining ability.
KeywordsHeterosis Mixed models SSR Identity by state
To Advanta Seeds for supporting this research and to the Brazilian funding agency (FAPEMIG) for conceding a research grant for the last author. Comments of both reviewers were very insightful and made this a better paper.
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