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Title: Kernel weight contribution to yield genetic gain of maize: a global review and US case studies
Abstract Over the past century of maize (Zea mays L.) breeding, grain yield progress has been the result of improvements in several other intrinsic physiological and morphological traits. In this study, we describe (i) the contribution of kernel weight (KW) to yield genetic gain across multiple agronomic settings and breeding programs, and (ii) the physiological bases for improvements in KW for US hybrids. A global-scale literature review concludes that rates of KW improvement in US hybrids were similar to those of other commercial breeding programs but extended over a longer period of time. There is room for a continued increase of kernel size in maize for most of the genetic materials analysed, but the trade-off between kernel number and KW poses a challenge for future yield progress. Through phenotypic characterization of Pioneer Hi-Bred ERA hybrids in the USA, we determine that improvements in KW have been predominantly related to an extended kernel-filling duration. Likewise, crop improvement has conferred on modern hybrids greater KW plasticity, expressed as a better ability to respond to changes in assimilate availability. Our analysis of past trends and current state of development helps to identify candidate targets for future improvements in maize.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ;
Dreisigacker, Susanne
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Experimental Botany
Page Range / eLocation ID:
3597 to 3609
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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