Combining Maize Base Germplasm for Cold Tolerance Breeding

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Rodríguez Graña, Víctor Manuel ; Butrón Gómez, Ana María ; Sandoya Miranda, Germán ; Ordás Pérez, Amando ; Revilla Temiño, Pedro (2007)

Early planting can contribute to increased grain yield of maize (Zea mays L.), but it requires cold tolerance. A limited number of cold-tolerant maize genotypes have been reported. The objectives of this study were to test a new strategy to improve cold tolerance in maize searching for broad x narrow genetic combinations that may be useful as base populations for breeding programs, to compare genotype performance under cold-controlled and field conditions, and to establish the major genetic effects involved in crosses between cold-tolerant inbred lines and populations. Nine cold-tolerant populations were crossed to five inbred lines and evaluated in a cold chamber and in the field. Most inbred line x population crosses performed better than populations per se or hybrids used as checks, both in the cold chamber and in the field, suggesting that broad x narrow genetic combination could be a suitable start point for further breeding programs for cold tolerance. The crosses between the inbred line EP80 and northwestern Spanish populations are the most promising base germplasm. In particular, EP80 x Puenteareas showed the greatest yield and good performance at the first stages of development under cold conditions. In addition, EP80 and Puenteareas showed favorable general combining ability for most traits. Early vigor rating would be the most suitable trait to select maize genotypes with superior cold tolerance during emergence and postemergence stages, because it was the only trait for which differences among genotypes were observed in both the cold chamber and the field. Although evaluation under controlled conditions is essential to test cold tolerance, field evaluations are complementary because no association was found between traits evaluated in both conditions.
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