Combining Ability Studies for Yield and its Related Traits in Inbred Lines of Maize (Zea mays L.)  

Ajay Singh , J. P. Shahi , D. M. Langade
Department of Genetics and Plant Breeding, Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, 221005, India
Author    Correspondence author
Molecular Plant Breeding, 2013, Vol. 4, No. 22   doi: 10.5376/mpb.2013.04.0022
Received: 13 Jun., 2013    Accepted: 19 Jun., 2013    Published: 21 Jun., 2013
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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.
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Singh et al., 2013, Combining Ability Studies for Yield and its Related Traits in Inbred Lines of Maize (Zea mays L.), Molecular Plant Breeding, Vol.4, No.22 177-188 (doi: 10.5376/mpb.2013.04.0022)


Combining ability analysis for yield and its component traits was performed with 15 lines, 3 testers, 3 checks and the resulting 45 crosses using Line×Tester analysis. The analysis of variance indicated significant differences among parents, females, males, crosses, females vs. males and parents vs. crosses for almost all the traits. Combining ability analysis showed significant to highly significant differences among the lines, testers and lines×tester. L6 was a good general combiner for earliness, whereas, L2 for dwarfness and yield. Tester T1 was good general combiner for earliness, T3 for dwarfness and T2 for yield. The mean performance of the different genotypes revealed that the crosses L11×T2, L10×T3 and L12×T2 showed highest yield / plot. L5×T3 exhibited negative and significant estimate of SCA effect for maturity traits, whereas, L10×T1 exhibited the same for height. Crosses L6×T1, L8×T1 and L14×T2 recorded positive and significant SCA effects for yield / plot. Cross L7×T1 recorded positive and significant estimates of SCA effect for ear length, ear diameter and rows per ear.

Combining ability; GCA; Maize (Zea mays L.); SCA

Maize is one of the important cereal food crop in world agricultural economy (Morris et al., 1999) for humans, feed for animals and also a crop of industrial utilization (White and Johnson, 2003). It belongs to the family Poaceae and the tribe Maydeae. It is also known as miracle crop. It has very high yield potential as compared to other cereals and, that is why referred to as “queen of cereals”. In India, it is grown in an area of about 8.17 mha with an overall production of 19.73 million tonnes and productivity of 2415 kg/ha (Agriculture Annual Report, 2008-2009).

From time immemorial, since new breeding techniques have evolved, the hybrid cultivars have played a crucial role in augmenting the acreage and productivity of maize. The ultimate success of any programme aimed to produce inbreds for hybrid breeding depends upon the genetic potential of parental population. The actual value of an inbred line lies in its worth in combinations with other inbreds. The reason behind this can be ascribed to the exploitation of combining ability, which is the relative ability of a genotype to transmit its desirable performance to its crosses. Combining ability analysis is not only the quickest method of understanding the genetic nature of quantitatively inherited traits but also gives essential information about selection of parents which in turn throws out better segregants. The variance due to general combining ability (GCA) is usually considered to be an indicator of the extent of additive type of gene action, this was advocated by several workers as Ahmed et al., 2000; Al-Naggar et al., 2002; Alamnie et al., 2006; El–Badawy, 2006; Sedhom et al., 2007, whereas specific combining ability (SCA) is taken as the measure of non- additive type of gene actions in heterosis breeding (Dadheech and Joshi, 2007; Barakat and Osman, 2008; Irshad El–Haq et al., 2010). Akbar et al (2008) and Hefny (2010) reported that additive and non – additive gene effects were equally important in the genetic expression of yield and its contributing traits. The relative magnitude of general and specific combining ability helps in selecting appropriate breeding procedures for achieving maximum genetic advance (Hayman, 1954; Griffing, 1956). The present study was undertaken to estimate the combining ability of parents and hybrids, nature and magnitude of gene action for yield and yield components in maize by adopting Line×Tester analysis (Kempthorne, 1957).
Results and Discussion
Selection of any crop improvement programme is dependent upon selection of parents with superior combining ability used to develop superior hybrids thus helping the breeder in selection of appropriate breeding procedures. The analysis of variance revealed that variance due to treatments, parents, parents vs. crosses and crosses were highly significant for most of the traits studied. These results clearly showed that the treatment including parent and crosses differed among themselves for most of the traits. The highly significant variance due to parent vs. crosses for most of the traits clearly shows the existence of heterotic effect (Table 1; Table 2).

Table 1 Analysis of variance for parents and hybrids

Table 2 ANOVA for combining ability
The mean performance of fifteen lines showed that L11 (1.613) and L14(1.603) was highest yielder which also showed highest mean value for ear diameter. L8 showed highest ear length, L7 and L10showed highest mean value for number of kernels per row and number of rows per ear respectively, L6 had shortest days to tasseling and silking (Table 3; Table 4). Among testers, T1 was earliest in maturity, high yielding and superior for most of the other traits, therefore, can be used in breeding programme for exploitation of heterosis as it will be a high yielding parent. The effect of genetic diversity on parental lines in relation to hybrid performance was shown by several workers (Lonquist and Gardener, 1961 and Vidyasagar, 1970).

Table 3 Mean performance of inbred lines and testers for quantitative traits

Table 4 Mean performance of crosses for quantitative traits
The GCA effect of lines and testers were found to quite variable for eleven traits studied (Table 5). The following lines and testers were observed to be general combiner for various specific traits studied. Parental lines viz., L6, L7, L8 and L14 were good general combiner for earliness however, the lines L6, L2 and L3 were good general combiner for dwarfness, whereas, tester T1 was good for earliness and T3 for dwarfness. Lines L11 and L2 were good general combiner for yield and most of the other yield contributing traits, whereas, tester T2 was good general combiner for yield.

Table 5 Estimation of general combining ability effects (GCA) of lines and testers for quantitative traits

The SCA effect of different crosses (Table 6) for different traits varied significantly from each other. The cross L6×T1 followed by crosses L8×T1, L14×T2, L10×T3 and L12×T2 showed high SCA effect for yield. The line×tester with good combining ability for yield contributing characters like ear girth and ear length (Table 7; Table 8; Table 9) will also improve yield in cross combinations as advocated by Singh and Singh (1998). Sinha and Mishra (1997) and Daret al (2007) also reported that significant differences existed among lines and lines×testers for all the traits.

Table 6 Estimation of specific combining ability (SCA) effects of crosses for quantitative traits

Table 7 Lines and testers with good general combining ability

Table 8 Elite specific combinations for yield and its components

Table 9 Elite specific combinations for maturity traits
Prasad and Pramod Kumar (2003), Subramaniyan and Subbraman (2006), Jayakumar and Sundram (2007), Vijayabharathi et al (2009) reported that specific combining ability (SCA) variances were higher than general combining ability variances (GCA) for all the characters which indicated preponderance of non-additive gene action for all the characters.

In the experimental hybrids, L5×T3, L1×T2, L3×T1 and L6×T2 exhibited negative and significant estimate of SCA effect for maturity traits however, the hybrids L10×T1 and L6×T2 showed negative and significant SCA effect for height trait. The crosses L6×T1, L8×T1 and L14×T2 recorded positive and significant SCA effects for yield/plot. The crosses L7×T1, L14×T2 and L2×T1 recorded positive and significant estimates of SCA effect for ear length and L7×T1 and L14×T2 for ear diameter. However, crosses L7×T1, L11×T1 and L5×T3 showed highest positive significant SCA effect for rows per ear.
Any combination among parents may produce hybrid vigour over parents which might be due to dominant, over dominant or epistatic gene action (Moll and Stuber, 1974). So, the crosses showing desirable SCA effects can be used in future breeding programmes. The inbred lines selected for high GCA can be used for the development of synthetic varieties. Lines showing high SCA values can be used in hybrid breeding programmes.
Materials and Methods
The parental material for present investigation comprised of 15 inbred lines viz., HUZM-55, HUZM-68, HUZM-69, HUZM-70-1, HUZM-77, HUZM-78, HUZM-79, HUZM-91-1, HUZM-175-2, HUZM-210-2, HUZM-211-1, HUZM-217, HUZM-221, HUZM-227-1-1 and HUZM-329 designated as L1, L2, L3, L4, L5, L6, L7, L8, L9, L10, L11, L12, L13, L14 and L15 respectively, 3 testers viz.,CM-119, HKI-1105 and HKI-323 designated as T1, T2 and T3 respectively along with 3 checks. These were selected on the basis of wide diversity for different metric traits. The inbred lines were developed and maintained at the centre of AICMIP, B.H.U., Varanasi, whereas, testers for investigation viz., T1 were collected from maize research stations at Hyderabad, T2 and T3 from Karnal.
The F1 hybrids were developed during Kharif 2008-2009 involving 15 lines and 3 testers along with 3 checks following Line×Tester mating design. These were sown in a Randomized Complete Block Design with three replications in Rabi 2008-2009 at Crop Research Centre of Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, (Table 10). Each genotype was planted in a single row plot of 4 m length having a uniform inter and intra row spacing of 60 cm and 20 cm respectively. Two seeds per hill was planted and later on one plant was thinned (if necessary) from each hill to maintain the optimum plant population. Border rows were planted to avoid border effect.

Table 10 Description of maize genotypes involved in experiment
Prior to tasseling five plants in each plot was randomly selected and tagged to record the observation for height and yield traits. However, data on days to 50% tassel, days to 50% silk and grain yield/plot was recorded on plot basis. The pre-harvest observations recorded were days to tassel (50%), days to silk (50%), plant height (cm) and ear height (cm), and the post-harvest observations taken were ear length (cm), ear diameter (cm), number of kernels/row, number of kernel rows/ear, 100 kernel weight (g), yield/plant (g) and yield/plot (kg). The data was subjected to the following statistical analysis: (1) Analysis of Variance (Panse and Sukhatme, 1967); (2) Mean performance of Lines, Testers and Crosses; (3) Combining ability analysis (Kempthorne, 1957).
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