Theoretical and Applied Genetics

, Volume 130, Issue 2, pp 403–417 | Cite as

General and specific combining abilities in a maize (Zea mays L.) test-cross hybrid panel: relative importance of population structure and genetic divergence between parents

  • A. Larièpe
  • L. Moreau
  • J. Laborde
  • C. Bauland
  • S. Mezmouk
  • L. Décousset
  • T. Mary-Huard
  • J. B. Fiévet
  • A. Gallais
  • P. Dubreuil
  • A. CharcossetEmail author
Original Article


Key message

General and specific combining abilities of maize hybrids between 288 inbred lines and three tester lines were highly related to population structure and genetic distance inferred from SNP data.


Many studies have attempted to provide reliable and quick methods to identify promising parental lines and combinations in hybrid breeding programs. Since the 1950s, maize germplasm has been organized into heterotic groups to facilitate the exploitation of heterosis. Molecular markers have proven efficient tools to address the organization of genetic diversity and the relationship between lines or populations. The aim of the present work was to investigate to what extent marker-based evaluations of population structure and genetic distance may account for general (GCA) and specific (SCA) combining ability components in a population composed of 800 inter and intra-heterotic group hybrids obtained by crossing 288 inbred lines and three testers. Our results illustrate a strong effect of groups identified by population structure analysis on both GCA and SCA components. Including genetic distance between parental lines of hybrids in the model leads to a significant decrease of SCA variance component and an increase in GCA variance component for all the traits. The latter suggests that this approach can be efficient to better estimate the potential combining ability of inbred lines when crossed with unrelated lines, and limits the consequences of tester choice. Significant residual GCA and SCA variance components of models taking into account structure and/or genetic distance highlight the variation available for breeding programs within structure groups.


Inbred Line Single Nucleotide Polymorphism Flint General Combine Ability Iodent 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We are grateful to the INRA Saint-Martin de Hinx seed stock center for providing genetic materials used in this study. We are grateful to Euralis, RAGT and Limagrain for providing proprietary materials and production of hybrid seeds. We are grateful to colleagues of the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique experimental units (Le Moulon, Mons, Lusignan and Saint-Martin de Hinx) and Arvalis (Satolas) for conducting the phenotypic evaluation. We are grateful to Patrick Vincourt and Elisabetta Frascaroli for helpful comments and discussion. Amandine Larièpe was funded partially by ANRT and Biogemma. Alain Charcosset and Laurence Moreau finalized this study in the framework of the AMAIZING research project funded by the French ANR.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical standards

This experiment did not involve animals and respected ethical standards.

Supplementary material

122_2016_2822_MOESM1_ESM.docx (183 kb)
ESM1 (DOCX 184 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Larièpe
    • 1
    • 3
  • L. Moreau
    • 1
  • J. Laborde
    • 2
  • C. Bauland
    • 1
  • S. Mezmouk
    • 3
  • L. Décousset
    • 3
  • T. Mary-Huard
    • 1
  • J. B. Fiévet
    • 1
  • A. Gallais
    • 1
  • P. Dubreuil
    • 3
  • A. Charcosset
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.UMR de Génétique VégétaleINRA-Univ-Paris-Sud–CNRS–AgroParisTechGif-Sur-YvetteFrance
  2. 2.INRASt Martin De HinxFrance
  3. 3.BIOGEMMA, Genetics and Genomics in CerealsChappesFrance

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