Increasing Yield

  • James B. Holland


Maize yields have improved dramatically in the past 80 years, largely due to genetic improvement through plant breeding. Maize yield is a quantitative trait affected by many genes, each with very small effects, and the environment. The inbred – hybrid breeding methods developed in the past 80 years exploit the genetic architecture of yield, including large additive and dominance variances as well as heterosis. This complex genetic architecture presents hindrances to the use of marker-assisted selection, although new approaches may overcome some of these difficulties. Future yield gains may also be achieved through the exploitation of the vast genetic diversity of maize. Unfortunately, improving yields for resource-poor farmers remains difficult.


Quantitative Trait Locus Genetic Gain Maize Yield Quantitative Trait Locus Effect Heterotic Group 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Ahearn M, Yee J, Ball E, Nehring R (1998) Agricultural productivity in the United States. USDA Economic Research Service, Agricultural Information Bulletin 740.Google Scholar
  2. Austin DF, Lee M (1996) Comparative mapping in F2:3 and F6:7 generations of quantitative trait loci for grain yield and yield components in maize . Theor Appl Genet 92:817–826.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Balint-Kurti PJ, Blanco M, Millard M, Duvick S, Holland J, Clements M, Holley R, Carson ML, Goodman MM (2006) Registration of 20 GEM maize breeding germplasm lines adapted to the southern USA. Crop Sci 46:996–998.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Banziger M, Cooper M (2001) Breeding for low input conditions and consequences for participatory plant breeding: Examples from tropical maize and wheat . Euphytica 122:503–519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beavis WD (1994) The power and deceit of QTL experiments: Lessons from comparative QTL studies. In: Wilkinson DB (ed.) 49th Ann Corn Sorghum Res Conf. Am Seed Trade Assoc., Chicago, IL, pp. 250–266.Google Scholar
  6. Bernardo R, Yu J (2007) Prospects for genomewide selection for quantitative traits in maize. Crop Sci 47:1082–1090.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Betran FJ, Menz M, Banziger M (2004) Corn breeding. In: Smith CW, Betran FJ, Runge ECA (eds.) Corn: Origin, History, Technology, and Production. Wiley, New York, pp. 305–398.Google Scholar
  8. Birchler JA, Auger DL, Riddle NC (2003) In search of the molecular basis of heterosis. Plant Cell 15:2236–2239.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Birchler JA, Yao H, Chudalayandi S (2006) Unraveling the genetic basis of hybrid vigor. Proc Nat Acad USA 103:12957–12958.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brown LR (1998) Struggling to raise cropland productivity. In: Brown LR (ed.) State of the World, 1998. Norton, New York, pp. 79–95.Google Scholar
  11. Buckler ES, Gaut BS, McMullen MD (2006) Molecular and functional diversity of maize. Curr Opin Plant Biol 9:172–176.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Bulmer MG (1985) The Mathematical Theory of Quantitative Genetics. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, UK.Google Scholar
  13. Burkart MR, James DE (2001) Agricultural nitrogen trends in the Mississippi basin, 1949–1997. U. S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, National Soil Tilth Laboratory.Google Scholar
  14. Byerlee D, Heisey PW (1997) Evolution of the African maize economy. In: Byerlee D, Eicher CK (eds.) Africa's Emerging Maize Revolution. Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder, CO, pp. 9–22.Google Scholar
  15. Carson ML, Balint-Kurti PJ, Blanco M, Millard M, Duvick S, Holley R, Hudyncia J, Goodman MM (2006) Registration of nine high-yielding tropical by temperate maize germplasm lines adapted for the southern USA . Crop Sci 46:1825–1826.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cassman KG (1999) Ecological intensification of cereal production systems: Yield potential, soil quality, and precision agriculture . Proc Nat Acad USA 96:5952–5959.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Castleberry RM, Crum CW, Krull CF (1984) Genetic yield improvement of US maize cultivars under varying fertility and climatic requirements . Crop Sci 24:33–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Crosbie TM, Eathington SR, Johnson GR, Edwards M, Reiter R, Stark S, Mohanty RG, Oyervides M, Buehler RE, Walker AK, Dobert R, Delannay X, Pershing JC, Hall MA, Lamkey KR (2006) Plant breeding: Past, present, and future. In: Lamkey KR, Lee M (eds.) Plant Breeding: The Arnel R Hallauer International Symposium. Blackwell, Ames, IA, pp. 3–50.Google Scholar
  19. Crow JF (1998) 90 years ago: The beginning of hybrid maize. Genetics 148:923–928.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Darrah LL, Zuber MS (1986) 1985 United States farm maize germplasm base and commercial breeding strategies. Crop Sci 26:1109–1113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Duvick DN (1984) Genetic contributions to yield gains of US hybrid maize, 1930 to 1980. In: Fehr WR (ed.) Genetic Contributions to Yield Gains of Five Major Crop Plants. Crop Science Society of America, Madison, WI, pp. 15–47.Google Scholar
  22. Duvick DN (1999) Heterosis: Feeding people and protecting natural resources. In: Coors JG, Pandey S (eds.) The Genetics and Exploitation of Heterosis in Crops. American Society of Agronomy, Madison, WI, pp. 19–29.Google Scholar
  23. Duvick DN, Cassman KG (1999) Post-green revolution trends in yield potential of temperate maize in the North-Central United States . Crop Sci 39:1622–1630.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Duvick DN, Smith JSC, Cooper M (2004) Changes in performance, parentage, and genetic diversity of successful corn hybrids, 1930–2000 . In: Smith CW , Betran FJ , Runge ECA (eds.) Corn: Origin, History, Technology, and Production. Wiley, New York, pp. 65–97.Google Scholar
  25. Edmeades G, Banziger M, Campos H, Schussler J (2006) Improved tolerance to abiotic stresses in staple crops: A random or planned process? In: Lamkey KR, Lee M (eds.) Plant Breeding: The Arnel R Hallauer International Symposium. Blackwell, Ames, IA, pp. 293–309.Google Scholar
  26. Eicher CK, Byerlee D (1997) Accelerating maize production: Synthesis. In: Byerlee D, Eicher CK (eds.) Africa's Emerging Maize Revolution. Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder, CO, pp. 247–262.Google Scholar
  27. Eicher CK, Kupfuma B (1997) Zimbabwe's emerging maize revolution. In: Byerlee D, Eicher CK (eds.) Africa's Emerging Maize Revolution. Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder, CO, pp. 25–43.Google Scholar
  28. Evans LT (1998) Feeding the Ten Billion: Plants and Population Growth. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.Google Scholar
  29. Evans LT, Fischer RA (1999) Yield potential: Its definition, measurement, and significance. Crop Sci 39:1544–1550.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Falconer DS, Mackay TFC (1996) Introduction to Quantitative Genetics, 4th ed. Longman Technical, Essex, UK.Google Scholar
  31. Goodman MM (1990) Genetic and germ plasm stocks worth conserving. J Hered 81:11–16.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Goodman MM, Moreno J, Castillo F, Holley RN, Carson ML (2000) Using tropical maize germ-plasm for temperate breeding . Maydica 45:221–234.Google Scholar
  33. Graham GI, Wolff DW, Stuber CW (1997) Characterization of a yield quantitative trait locus on chromosome five of maize by fine mapping . Crop Sci 37:1601–1610.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hallauer AR, Miranda JB (1988) Quantitative Genetics in Maize Breeding. 2nd ed. Iowa State University Press, Ames, IA.Google Scholar
  35. Hallauer AR , Pandey S (2006) Defining and achieving plant-breeding goals . In: Lamkey KR, Lee M (eds.) Plant Breeding: The Arnel R Hallauer International Symposium. Blackwell, Ames, IA, pp. 73–89.Google Scholar
  36. Hallauer AR, Russell WA, Lamkey KR (1988) Corn breeding. In: Sprague GF, Dudley JW (eds.) Corn and Corn Improvement. 3rd ed. American Society of Agronomy, Madison, WI, pp. 463–564.Google Scholar
  37. Hinze LL, Lamkey KR (2003) Absence of epistasis for grain yield in elite maize hybrids. Crop Sci 43:46–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Holland JB (2001) Epistasis and plant breeding. Plant Breed Rev 21:27–92.Google Scholar
  39. Holland JB (2004) Implementation of molecular markers for quantitative traits in breeding programs – challenges and opportunities. In: Fischer T, Turner N, Angus J, McIntyre L, Robertson M, Borrell A, Lloyd D (eds.) New Directions for a Diverse Planet: Proceedings for the 4th International Crop Science Congress, Brisbane, Australia.Google Scholar
  40. Holland JB (2007) Genetic architecture of complex traits in plants. Curr Opin Plant Biol 10:156–161.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Holland JB, Goodman MM, Castillo-Gonzalez F (1996) Identification of agronomically superior Latin American maize accessions via multi-stage evaluations . Crop Sci 36:778–784.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lamkey KR, Smith OS (1987) Performance and inbreeding depression of populations representing seven eras of maize breeding . Crop Sci 27:695–699.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Meghji MR, Dudley JW, Lambert RJ, Sprague GF (1984) Inbreeding depression, inbred and hybrid grain yields, and other traits of maize genotypes representing three eras . Crop Sci 24:545–549.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Melchinger AE, Utz HF, Schon CC (1998) Quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping using different testers and independent population samples in maize reveal low power of QTL detection and large bias in estimates of QTL effects . Genetics 149:383–403.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Mihaljevic R, Utz HF, Melchinger AE (2005) No evidence for epistasis in hybrid and per se performance of elite European flint maize inbreds from generation means and QTL analyses . Crop Sci 45 : 2605 – 2613 .CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mikel MA, Dudley JW (2006) Evolution of North American dent corn from public to proprietary germplasm. Crop Sci 46:1193–1205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Niebur WS, Rafalski JA, Smith OS, Cooper M (2004) Applications of genomics technologies to enhance rate of genetic progress for yield of maize within a commercial breeding program . In: Fischer T, Turner N, Angus J, McIntyre L, Robertson M, Borrell A, Lloyd D (eds.) New Directions for a Diverse Planet: Proceedings for the 4th International Crop Science Congress , Brisbane, Australia.Google Scholar
  48. Padgitt M, Newton D, Penn R, Sandretto C (2000) Production Practices for Major Crops in U.S. Agriculture, 1990–97. USDA – Economic Research Service Statistical Bulletin No. 969.Google Scholar
  49. Pingali PL, Heisey PW (1999) Cereal crop productivity in developing countries. CIMMYT Economics Paper 99–03. CIMMYT, Mexico, DF.Google Scholar
  50. Pixley KV (2006) Hybrid and open-pollinated varieties in modern agriculture. In: Lamkey KR, Lee M (eds.) Plant Breeding: The Arnel R Hallauer International Symposium. Blackwell, Ames, IA, pp. 234–250.Google Scholar
  51. Pollak LM, Salhuana W (2001) The germplasm enhancement of maize (GEM) project: Private and public sector collaboration. In: Cooper HD, Spillane C, Hodgkin T (eds.) Broadening the Genetic Base of Crop Production. IPGRI/FAO, Rome, pp. 319–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Russell WA (1984) Agronomic performance of maize cultivars representing different eras of breeding. Maydica 29:375–390.Google Scholar
  53. Schon CC, Utz HF, Groh S, Truberg B, Openshaw S, Melchinger AE (2004) Quantitative trait locus mapping based on resampling in a vast maize testcross experiment and its relevance to quantitative genetics for complex traits . Genetics 167:485–498.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Smith JSC (1988) Diversity of United States hybrid maize germplasm; isozymic and chromato-graphic evidence. Crop Sci 28:63–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Smith JSC, Smith OS, Wright S, Wall SJ, Walton M (1992) Diversity of U.S. hybrid maize germ-plasm as revealed by restriction fragment length polymorphisms. Crop Sci 32:598–604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Smith ME, Castillo GF, Gomez F (2001) Participatory plant breeding with maize in Mexico and Honduras. Euphytica 122:551–565.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Stuber CW, Lincoln SE, Wolff DW, Helentjaris T, Lander ES (1992) Identification of genetic factors contributing to heterosis in a hybrid from two elite maize inbred lines using molecular markers . Genetics 132:823–839.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. Stuber CW, Polacco M, Senior ML (1999) Synergy of empirical breeding, marker-assisted selection, genomics, and genetic engineering to increase crop yield potential . Crop Sci 39:1571–1583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Tallury SP, Goodman MM (1999) Experimental evaluation of the potential of tropical germplasm for temperate maize improvement . Theor Appl Genet 98:54–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Tallury SP, Goodman MM (2001) The state of the use of maize and genetic diversity in the USA and sub-Saharan Africa. In: Cooper HD, Spillane C, Hodgkin T (eds.) Brodening the Genetic Base of Crop Production. IPGRI/FAO, Rome, pp. 159–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Tarter JA, Goodman MM, Holland JB (2004) Recovery of exotic alleles in semiexotic maize inbreds derived from crosses between Latin American accessions and a temperate line . Theor Appl Genet 109:609–617.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  62. Tollenaar M (1989) Genetic improvement in grain yield of commercial maize hybrids grown in Ontario from 1959 to 1988 . Crop Sci 29:1365–1371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Tollenaar M, Lee EA (2002) Yield potential, yield stability and stress tolerance in maize. Field Crops Res 75:161–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Tollenaar M, Wu J (1999) Yield improvement in temperate maize is attributable to greater stress tolerance. Crop Sci 39:1597–1604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Uhr DV, Goodman MM (1995) Temperate maize inbreds derived from tropical germplasm. I. Testcross yield trials. Crop Sci 35:779–784.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. United States Department of Agriculture–National Agricultural Statistics Service (2007) Crop production historical track records, April 2007.Google Scholar
  67. Veldboom LR, Lee M (1994) Molecular-marker-facilitated studies of morphological traits in maize . II: Determination of QTLs for grain yield and yield components. Theor Appl Genet 89:451–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • James B. Holland

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations