Combining Ability Studies in Maize (Zea Mays L.)  

Kambe Gouda R , Udaykumar Kage , H C Lohithaswa , B G  Shekara , D Shobha
University of Agricultural sciences, Dharwad, India
Author    Correspondence author
Molecular Plant Breeding, 2013, Vol. 4, No. 14   doi: 10.5376/mpb.2013.04.0014
Received: 06 May, 2013    Accepted: 17 May, 2013    Published: 22 May, 2013
© 2013 BioPublisher Publishing Platform
This is an open access article published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Preferred citation for this article:

Gowda R et al., 2013, Combining Ability Studies in Maize (Zea Mays L.), Molecular Plant Breeding, 2013, Vol.3, No.14 116-127 (doi: 10.5376/ijh.2013.03.0014)


The present study was conducted to assess the general combining ability effects of parents and specific combining ability effects of hybrids for yield and yield related traits and explore their use in hybrid development. 170 F1s generated by crossing thirty four lines with five testers were evaluated. The ratio of sca / gca variance revealed that there was preponderance of non additive gene action in the expression of all the traits under study. Inbred lines viz., MAI 708, MAI 109, MAI 111, MAI 121, Cymt 3 and Cymt 30 were good general combiners for yield and yield attributing characters. Tester CM 500 was high combiner for grain yield. Among the hybrids, MAI 109 X MAI 105, MAI 109 X CM 202, Cymt 30 X NAI 137, Cymt 3 X SKV 50 and Cymt 3 X CM 202 exhibited highest significant sca effects and high heterosis over checks for yield and yield attributing traits.

Maize (Zea Mays L.); sca/gca; Hybrids; Yield

Maize (Zea mays L.) is the third most important crop among the cereal crops grown in India. Maize grain is gaining popularity in our country due to huge demand, particularly for poultry feed industry. Besides, maize has diversified uses as food and industrial raw materials. Maize acreage and production have an increasing tendency with the introduction of hybrids due to its high yield potential. The nature and magnitude of gene action is an important factor in developing an effective breeding programme. Combining ability analysis is useful to assess the potential inbred lines and also helps in identifying the nature of gene action involved in various quantitative characters. This information is helpful to plant breeders for formulating hybrid breeding programmes. Efforts are, therefore, required to be made to develop hybrids with high yield potential in order to increase production of maize. A good number of inbreds developed recently is available at the All India Coordinated Research Project on Maize, ZARS, Mandya whose combining ability has not yet been studied for utilization in hybrid development programme. Most efficient use of such materials would be possible only when adequate information on the amount and type of genetic variation and combining ability effects in the materials is available. A wide array of biometrical tools is available to breeders for characterizing genetic control of economically important traits as a guide to decide upon an appropriate breeding methodology to involve in hybrid breeding. The present investigation was carried out to determine breeding value of genotypes, nature and magnitude of gene action and heterosis for various yield and other important traits in maize (Zea mays L.). Line×tester mating design developed by Kempthorne (1957), which provides reliable information on the general and specific combining ability effects of parents and their hybrid combinations was used to generate the information. The design has been widely used in maize by several workers and continues to be applied in quantitative genetic studies in maize (Joshi et al., 2002; Sharma et al., 2004).

Thus, the objective of the present investigation was to unravel the genetics of yield and other important traits and estimate combining ability effects of inbred lines and crosses of maize for yield and other important traits.
Results and Discussion
The analysis of variance for combining ability revealed that mean squares due to lines, testers and line×testers were significant for all the characters (Table 1). This indicated that both additive and non additive gene effects were important in the genetic expression of most of the traits studied. These results are in general agreement with those of Joshi et al (2002) whereas; Sharma et al (2004) reported preponderance of additive genetic effects.The mean sum of squares for crosses was highly significant, which indicated the diverse performance of different cross combinations for all traits. The parents versus hybrids mean sum of squares were highly significant for all traits, which revealed the presence of heterosis due to the significant difference in the mean performance of hybrids and parents.

Table 1 Analysis of variance for grain yield and its contributing characters in maize (Zea mays L.)


The data showed that, among thirteen characters studied all manifested higher degree of sca variance as compared to gca variance. The higher sca variance revealed the predominance of non additive genetic variance. Contrarily, importance of additive gene effects was reported by Alamnie et al (2006).From the results it was evident that per cent contribution of line x tester interaction appeared high to the bulk of the variation observed in hybrids. Similar findings were reported for ear length and ear diameter by Kanta et al(2005). Perusal of gca effects (Table 2) revealed that no line was observed to be good combiner for all the traits. However MAI 708, MAI 109, MAI 111, MAI 121, Cymt 3 and Cymt 30 were observed to be good general combiners for most of the traits. Among testers, MAI 105 was observed to be good combiner for most of the traits.

Table 2 General combining ability effects of parents for yield and its contributing characters in maize

A critical evaluation of the results with respect to specific combining ability effects showed that none of the cross combinations exhibited desirable significant sca effects for all the characters. Results indicated that crosses having significantly higher sca effects generally involved high and low overall general combiners. For grain yield MAI 723×CM 202 was the best specific combiner followed by Cymt 30×NAI 137 and SKV 14×NAI 137 (Table 3). Other top ranking specific cross combinations viz., MAI 109×CM 202, Cymt 3×CM 202, MAI 708×CM 202, MAI 107×CM 202, SKV 48×CM 202 were having both the parents with high overall general combining ability whereas, the crosses MAI 109×MAI 105, MAI 112×CM 500, MAI 121×SKV 50, MAI 121×MAI 105, SKV 5×MAI 105, SKV 65×SKV 50 were resulted from high x low over all general combiners. Most of the top ranking specific combiners revealed average specific combining ability for yield attributing traits. Studies indicated that most of the superior crosses were between high x low and high×high combining parents, suggesting that involvement of one good general combiner appears to be essential to get the better specific combination. The results are in general agreement with the findings of Dass et al (1997). The highest yielding cross MAI 109×MAI 105 also revealed significant positive sca effects but ranked 7th and was the outcome of high×low combining parents. Chaudhary et al (2000) and Surya and Ganguli (2004) also reported high positive specific combining ability effects along with high per se performance for grain yield. The superiority of crosses involving high x low combiners as parents could be explained on the basis of interaction between positive alleles from good combiners and negative alleles for the poor combiners as parents. The high yield of such crosses would be non-fixable and thus could be exploited for heterosis breeding. The superior cross combinations involving low×low general combiners could result from over dominance and epistasis.

Table 3 Specific combining ability effects of single cross hybrids for yield and yield contributing characters in maize

Highest percentage of heterosis for grain yield per plot over standard checks was exhibited by the crosses viz., MAI 109×MAI 105, MAI 109×CM 202, Cymt 30×NAI 137, Cymt 3×SKV 50, Cymt 3×CM 202, SKV 14×NAI 137, MAI 708×CM 202, MAI 723×CM 202, MAI 112×CM 500, MAI 104×MAI 105, MAI 118×SKV 50, MAI 121×SKV 50, MAI 107×CM 202, MAI 121×MAI 105, SKV 48×CM 202, SKV 5×MAI 105 and SKV 65×SKV 50.

Twenty-one parents viz., MAI 111, SKV 28, SKV 26, MAI 109, SKV 48, SKV 21, SKV 65, SKV 42, MAI 108, MAI 708, Cymt 30, SKV 5, SKV 14, MAI 107, SKV 4, SKV 12, SKV 32, MAI 121, Cymt 3, SKV 60 and MAI 113 were identified as overall high general combiners and these could be utilized for development of either the synthetic varieties or an elite breeding population by allowing thorough mixing among them to achieve new genetic recombination and then subjecting the resultant population to recurrent selection. 
Material and Methods
Thirty four lines and five testers were mated in a line×tester design during kharif 2008. The resulting 170 F1s, their parents and two checks NAH 2049 and 31Y45 (Pioneer Overseas Corporation, Bangalore) were grown in a Randomized Complete Block Design with two replications at Zonal Agricultural Research Station, V.C. Farm, Mandya, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, which is located at a latitude of 12o 30I N, longitude of 76o 50I E and altitude of 694.65 meters above Mean Sea Level (MSL). The spacing between rows was 75 cm and between plants was 30 cm and one plant per hill was maintained. Observations were recorded on thirteen yield and yield attributing traits viz., days to 50% tasselling, days to 50% pollen shedding, days to 50% silking, days to 50% brown husk maturity, plant height, ear height, ear length, ear diameter, number of kernel rows per cob, number of kernels per row, test weight, shelling percentage and grain yield per plot.

The data were subjected for analysis of variance for all the characters studied as per the method suggested by Panse and Sukhatme (1961). The variance of combining ability was estimated as per the procedure developed by Kempthorne (1957).The mean squares for GCA and SCA were tested against desired error variance. Heterosis was computed as per the method of Tuner (1953) and Hayes et al(1955). Overall status of parents and crosses with respect to gca and sca and heterosis was determined by following a method suggested by Arunachalam and Bandyopadhyay (1979) that was slightly modified by Mohan Rao et al (2001).
Alamnie A., Wali M.C., Salimath P. M. and Jagadeesha B. C., 2006, Combining ability and heterosis for grain yield and ear characters in maize, Karnataka J. Agric. Sci., 19: 13-16
Arunachalam V., and Bandopadhyay A., 1979, Are “Multilple cross- Multiple pollen hybrids” an answer for productive populations in Brassica copestries variety brown serson?. Theor. Appl. Genet., 54: 203-207
Chaudhary A.K., Chaudhary L.B. and Sharma K.C., 2000, Combining ability estimates of early generation inbred lines derived from two maize populations, Indian J. Genet., 60: 55-61
Dass S., Ahuja V. P. and Singh M., 1997, Combining ability for yield in maize,  Indian J. Genet., 57: 98-100
Hayes H. K., Immer F.R., and Smith D. C., 1955, Methods of plant breeding. Mc. Grow Hill Book Co., Inc., New York.pp.165-180
Joshi V.N., Dubey R. B. and Marker S., 2002, Combining ability for polygenic traits in early maturity hybrids of maize (Zea mays L.), Indian J. Genet. Plant Breed., 62: 312-315
Kanta G., Singh H. B., Sharma J. K. and Guleri G. K., 2005, Heterosis and combining ability studies for yield and its related traits in maize, Crop Res., 30: 221-226
KempthorneO., 1957, An introduction to genetic statistics, John Willy and Sons. Inc. New York. Pp.545
Panse V.G. and Sukhatme P.V., 1961, Statistical Methods for Agricultural Workers, ICAR Publication, New Delhi, pp.145
Sharma S., Narwal R., Kumar M. S., and Dass S., 2004, Line x tester analysis in maize (Zea mays L.), Forage Res., 30: 28-30
Surya P., and Ganguli D.K., 2004, Combining ability for various yield component and characters in maize, J. Res. Bisra. Agric. Univ., 16: 55-60

Turner, J.K., 1953, A study of heterosis in upland cotton and combining ability and inbreeding effects, Agronomy, Journal, 45: 487-490

Molecular Plant Breeding
• Volume 4
View Options
. PDF(128KB)
. Online fPDF
Associated material
. Readers' comments
Other articles by authors
pornliz suckporn porndick pornstereo . Kambe Gouda R
. Udaykumar Kage
. H C Lohithaswa
. B G  Shekara
. D Shobha
Related articles
. Maize ( Zea Mays L.)
. sca/gca
. Hybrids
. Yield
. Email to a friend
. Post a comment