Combining Ability of Certain Agronomic Traits in Quality Protein Maize under Stress and Nonstress Environments in Eastern and Southern Africa
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Growing maize (Zea mays L.) hybrids tolerant to drought and low-nitrogen (N) stress would significantly reduce yield losses occurring in Africa. This study evaluated the performance of quality protein maize (QPM) F1 hybrids, and general (GCA) and specific combining ability (SCA) of QPM inbred lines for grain yield and other agronomic traits under stress and nonstress environments. A diallel cross of 15 QPM inbred lines was evaluated under drought and low-N stresses and optimal conditions in a total of 17 environments in Eastern and Southern Africa. Significant variations were observed among the hybrids for all measured traits. TZMI703 x (6207QB/6207QA), GQL5 x (6207QB/6207QA), and CML511 x (6207QB/6207QA) were identified as the best single crosses across environments. The GCA and SCA mean squares were significant for all measured traits, indicating that additive and nonadditive genetic effects were important in this set of genotypes under all test environments. The GCA effects were more important under drought stress, and SCA effects were more important under low-N and optimal conditions for grain yield. There was preponderance of GCA effects for most agronomic traits tested in all environmental conditions. Inbred lines CML159SR, GQL5, CML159, and CML312SRQ exhibited favorable GCA effects for grain yield under stress and optimal conditions, indicating that the genetic systems controlling a given trait under different conditions are at least partially similar. Cross combinations with favorable SCA effects for grain yield and other traits were also identified. Generally, this study provided evidence that good performance can be achieved under stress and nonstress conditions in QPM germplasm.
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