Identification of heterotic groups in South-Asian-bred hybrid parents of pearl millet.
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Key message Pearl millet breeding programs can use this heterotic group information on seed and restorer parents to generate new series of pearl millet hybrids having higher yields than the existing hybrids. Five hundred and eighty hybrid parents, 320 R- and 260 B-lines, derived from 6 pearl millet breeding programs in India, genotyped following RAD-GBS (about 0.9 million SNPs) clustered into 12 R- and 7 B-line groups. With few exceptions, hybrid parents of all the breeding programs were found distributed across all the marker-based groups suggesting good diversity in these programs. Three hundred and twenty hybrids generated using 37 (22 R and 15 B) representative parents, evaluated for grain yield at four locations in India, showed significant differences in yield, heterosis, and combining ability. Across all the hybrids, mean mid- and better-parent heterosis for grain yield was 84.0% and 60.5%, respectively. Groups G12 B x G12 R and G10 B x G12 R had highest heterosis of about 10% over best check hybrid Pioneer 86M86. The parents involved in heterotic hybrids were mainly from the groups G4R, G10B, G12B, G12R, and G13B. Based on the heterotic performance and combining ability of groups, 2 B-line (HGB-1 and HGB-2) and 2 R-line (HGR-1 and HGR-2) heterotic groups were identified. Hybrids from HGB-1 x HGR-1 and HGB-2 x HGR-1 showed grain yield heterosis of 10.6 and 9.3%, respectively, over best hybrid check. Results indicated that parental groups can be formed first by molecular markers, which may not predict the best hybrid combination, but it can reveal a practical value of assigning existing and new hybrid pearl millet parental lines into heterotic groups to develop high-yielding hybrids from the different heterotic groups.
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