Agronomic and molecular evaluation of maize inbred lines for drought tolerance

Sanja Mikić, Miroslav Zorić, Dušan Stanisavljević, Ankica Kondić-Špika, Ljiljana Brbaklić, Borislav Kobiljski, Aleksandra Nastasić, Bojan Mitrović, Gordana Šurlan-Momirović


Drought is a severe threat to maize yield stability in Serbia and other temperate Southeast European countries occurring occasionally but with significant yield losses. The development of resilient genotypes that perform well under drought is one of the main focuses of maize breeding programmes. To test the tolerance of newly developed elite maize inbred lines to drought stress, field trials for grain yield performance and anthesis silk interval (ASI) were set in drought stressed environments in 2011 and 2012. Inbred lines performing well under drought, clustered into a group with short ASI and a smaller group with long ASI, were considered as a potential source for tolerance. The former contained inbreds from different heterotic groups and with a proportion of local germplasm. The latter consisted of genotypes with mixed exotic and Lancaster germplasm, which performed better in more drought-affected environments. Three inbreds were selected for their potential drought tolerance, showing an above-average yield and small ASI in all environments. Association analysis indicated significant correlations between ASI and grain yield and three microsatellites (bnlg1525, bnlg238 and umc1025). Eight alleles were selected for their favourable concurrent effect on yield increase and ASI decrease. The proportion of phenotypic variation explained by the markers varied across environments from 5.7% to 22.4% and from 4.6% to 8.1% for ASI and yield, respectively. The alleles with strongest effect on performance of particular genotypes and their interactions in specific environments were identified by the mean of partial least square interactions analysis indicating potential suitability of the makers for tolerant genotype selection.


anthesis silk interval; inbreds; microsatellites; yield; Zea mays

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DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2016144-9116