Genetic gains in grain yield of a maize population improved through marker assisted recurrent selection under stress and non-stress conditions in West Africa [Electronic Resource] - Switzerland : Frontiers, 2017.
Peer review Open Access
Marker-assisted recurrent selection (MARS) is a breeding method used to accumulate favorable alleles that for example confer tolerance to drought in inbred lines from several genomic regions within a single population. A bi-parental cross formed from two parents that combine resistance to Striga hermonthica with drought tolerance, which was improved through MARS, was used to assess changes in the frequency of favorable alleles and its impact on inbred line improvement. A total of 200 testcrosses of randomly selected S1 lines derived from the original (C0) and advanced selection cycles of this bi-parental population, were evaluated under drought stress (DS) and well-watered (WW) conditions at Ikenne and under artificial Striga infestation at Abuja and Mokwa in Nigeria in 2014 and 2015. Also, 60 randomly selected S1 lines each derived from the four cycles (C0, C1, C2, C3) were genotyped with 233 SNP markers using KASP assay. The results showed that the frequency of favorable alleles increased with MARS in the bi-parental population with none of the markers showing fixation. The gain in grain yield was not significant under DS condition due to the combined effect of DS and armyworm infestation in 2015. Because the parents used for developing the bi-parental cross combined tolerance to drought with resistance to Striga, improvement in grain yield under DS did not result in undesirable changes in resistance to the parasite in the bi-parental maize population improved through MARS. MARS increased the mean number of combinations of favorable alleles in S1 lines from 114 in C0 to 124 in C3. The level of heterozygosity decreased by 15%, while homozygosity increased by 13% due to the loss of some genotypes in the population. This study demonstrated the effectiveness of MARS in increasing the frequency of favorable alleles for tolerance to drought without disrupting the level of resistance to Striga in a bi-parental population targeted as a source of improved maize inbred lines.
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