Selection for high spike fertility index increases genetic progress in grain yield and stability in bread wheat
Spike fertility index (SF) has been proposed as a promising trait to be used as a selection criterion in wheat breeding programs aimed at increasing grain yield, but no actual evidence of its successful application has been reported. In this study, 146 recombinant inbred lines derived from a cross between ‘Baguette 10’ and ‘Klein Chajá’, Argentinean spring bread wheat cultivars with contrasting SF, were evaluated during three crop seasons (2013, 2014 and 2015) at Balcarce, Argentina. Grain yield, grain number/m2, grain weight, and SF were measured at maturity. Changes in grain yield (i.e., responses to selection) after application of different selection strategies, including different selection criteria and selection intensities, were determined. Significant correlations were observed between grain number and grain yield, SF and grain yield, and SF and grain weight. Analysis of SF variance components showed a significant genotype × environment interaction, but it represented only 9% of the total variation, whereas 51% of the variation was genetic, resulting in a high narrow-sense heritability (0.84). The use of SF as a selection criterion, either solely or in combination with selection for high yield, increased yield, resulting in higher and more stable yields than if selecting for high yield alone. Our findings support the use of spike fertility index as a selection criterion for increasing genetic progress and stability of yield in bread wheat breeding programs.
KeywordsFruiting efficiency Genetic correlation Heritability
We thank members of the Grupo Trigo Balcarce (Unidad Integrada EEA Balcarce INTA – FCA, UNMdP) for help with the experiments and technical assistance. Scholarships granted to M.P. Alonso by the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) and to N.E. Mirabella and J.S. Panelo by the Comisión de Investigaciones Científicas de la Provincia de Buenos Aires (CIC), and partial funding by the Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA; PNBIO 1131042), are acknowledged. This work is part of a thesis by M.P. Alonso in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Doctor´s degree (Facultad de Ciencias Agrarias, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata, Argentina).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
The datasets generated and analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
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