Combining ability, gene action and heterosis analyses of maize lines that were developed for maize streak virus resistance and acidic soil tolerance

Abstract

Aluminium toxicity in acidic soils (Al) and the maize streak virus disease (MSV) cause significant losses in maize productivity. These constraints can occur simultaneously in sub-Saharan Africa but there are no maize hybrids that combine resistance for both stresses. Therefore, the objectives of the study were to determine combining ability, gene action and heterosis for MSV and Al tolerance in maize. Ninety-nine experimental hybrids were generated from a 10 × 10 factorial mating design. The experimental maize hybrids, and 21 commercial hybrids were evaluated for MSV resistance under artificial infestation in Zimbabwe, and for grain yield and agronomic performance across eight environments in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Ninety-seven experimental hybrids and five standard control hybrids were evaluated for Al tolerance in a laboratory in South Africa. There were significant (p < 0.05) differences among hybrids for agronomic traits, grain yield, and MSV and Al toxicity tolerance. Only general combining ability effects were significant (p < 0.05) for grain yield and grain moisture content, while specific combining ability effects were significant (p < 0.05) for number of ears and ear prolificacy. Both GCA and SCA effects were significant for the Al toxicity tolerance related traits, indicating that Al tolerance was governed by both additive and non-additive gene action. Although hybrids displayed highly significant variation for MSV resistance, the GCA and SCA mean squares were not significant and only accounted for 59% of the hybrid sum of squares, suggesting that MSV resistance was partly under qualitative inheritance. The F1 hybrids displayed MSV severity scores similar to those of their MSV resistant parents, suggesting that probably simple dominance gene effects were involved. The hybrids also displayed significantly high levels of heterosis for both Al and MSV resistance, indicating that hybridisation would be effective in generating improved varieties. At least 60% of the hybrids were resistant to Al toxicity and more than 87% were MSV resistant, indicating that there is potential to develop varieties with resistance to both stresses.

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Acknowledgements

This research was funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF), of South Africa, in the Kenya-South Africa Research collaboration initiative. We would also like to thank the Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) for the prior funding of the maize germplasm line development at the Rongo University College and University of KwaZulu-Natal. The acidic soil tolerant maize germplasm lines, which were used in the study were developed by Professor Samuel Gudu at the Rongo University College, in Kenya. The MSV resistant germplasm lines were developed by Professor John Derera, at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, in South Africa. Field testing of experimental hybrids was partly supported by Seed Co International and Seed Co Limited at their research stations, in South Africa and Zimbabwe, respectively. We would also like to acknowledge the use of research stations (Cedara, Dundee and Makhathini) of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, in South Africa, for both inbred line development and hybrid testing.

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Correspondence to Siphesihle Maphumulo or John Derera.

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Maphumulo, S., Derera, J., Sibiya, J. et al. Combining ability, gene action and heterosis analyses of maize lines that were developed for maize streak virus resistance and acidic soil tolerance. Euphytica 217, 23 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10681-020-02754-z

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Keywords

  • Acidic soil tolerance
  • Aluminium resistance
  • Combining ability
  • Genetic gains
  • Heterosis
  • Maize breeding
  • Maize streak virus resistance