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Phenotypic versus marker-assisted selection for stalk strength and second-generation European corn borer resistance in maize

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Maize (Zea mays L.) stalk lodging is breakage of the stalk at or below the ear, which may result in loss of the ear at harvest. Stalk lodging is often intensified by the stalk tunneling action of the second-generation of the European corn borer (2-ECB) [Ostrinia nubilalis (Hübner)]. Rind penetrometer resistance (RPR) has been used to measure stalk strength and improve stalk lodging resistance, and quantitative trait loci (QTL) have been identified for both RPR and 2-ECB damage. Phenotypic recurrent selection (PS) increases the frequency of favorable alleles over cycles of selection. Several studies have indicated that marker-assisted selection (MAS) is also a potentially valuable selection tool. The objective of this study was to compare the efficiency of PS versus MAS for RPR and 2-ECB. Marker-assisted selection for high and low RPR was effective in the three populations studied. Phenotypic selection for both high and low RPR was more effective than MAS in two of the populations. However, in a third population, MAS for high RPR using QTL effects from the same population was more effective than PS, and using QTL effects from a separate population was just as effective as PS. Marker-assisted selection for resistance and susceptibility to 2-ECB using QTL effects from the same population was effective in increasing susceptibility, but not in increasing resistance. Marker-assisted selection using QTL effects from a separate population was effective in both directions of selection. Thus, MAS was effective in selecting for both resistance and susceptibility to 2-ECB. These results demonstrated that MAS can be an effective selection tool for both RPR and 2-ECB resistance. These results also validate the locations and effects of QTL for RPR and 2-ECB resistance identified in earlier studies.

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The authors acknowledge Arturo Garcia, Sheri Martin, Arnulfo Antonio, Charles Thiel, Tim Praiswater, and Julie Barry for their assistance in phenotypic data collection. S. Flint-Garcia was supported by the Maize Biology Training Grant, NSF BIR 9420688, and the University of Missouri M.S. Zuber Assistantship Endowment. Research support was provided by the Plant Genetics Research Unit, USDA-ARS.

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Correspondence to L. L. Darrah.

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Communicated by D. Hoisington

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Flint-Garcia, S.A., Darrah, L.L., McMullen, M.D. et al. Phenotypic versus marker-assisted selection for stalk strength and second-generation European corn borer resistance in maize. Theor Appl Genet 107, 1331–1336 (2003).

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