Theoretical and Applied Genetics

, Volume 128, Issue 5, pp 875–891 | Cite as

Improving resistance to the European corn borer: a comprehensive study in elite maize using QTL mapping and genome-wide prediction

  • Flavio Foiada
  • Peter Westermeier
  • Bettina Kessel
  • Milena Ouzunova
  • Valentin Wimmer
  • Wolfgang Mayerhofer
  • Thomas Presterl
  • Michael Dilger
  • Ralph Kreps
  • Joachim Eder
  • Chris-Carolin Schön
Original Paper


Key message

The efficiency of marker-assisted selection for native resistance to European corn borer stalk damage can be increased when progressing from a QTL-based towards a genome-wide approach.


Marker-assisted selection (MAS) has been shown to be effective in improving resistance to the European corn borer (ECB) in maize. In this study, we investigated the performance of whole-genome-based selection, relative to selection based on individual quantitative trait loci (QTL), for resistance to ECB stalk damage in European elite maize. Three connected biparental populations, comprising 590 doubled haploid (DH) lines, were genotyped with high-density single nucleotide polymorphism markers and phenotyped under artificial and natural infestation in 2011. A subset of 195 DH lines was evaluated in the following year as lines per se and as testcrosses. Resistance was evaluated based on stalk damage ratings, the number of feeding tunnels in the stalk and tunnel length. We performed individual- and joint-population QTL analyses and compared the cross-validated predictive abilities of the QTL models with genomic best linear unbiased prediction (GBLUP). For all traits, the GBLUP model consistently outperformed the QTL model despite the detection of QTL with sizeable effects. For stalk damage rating, GBLUP’s predictive ability exceeded at times 0.70. Model training based on DH line per se performance was efficient in predicting stalk breakage in testcrosses. We conclude that the efficiency of MAS for ECB stalk damage resistance can be increased considerably when progressing from a QTL-based towards a genome-wide approach. With the availability of native ECB resistance in elite European maize germplasm, our results open up avenues for the implementation of an integrated genome-based selection approach for the simultaneous improvement of yield, maturity and ECB resistance.


Quantitative Trait Locus Double Haploid Quantitative Trait Locus Mapping Single Nucleotide Polymorphism Marker Double Haploid Line 
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.



The authors thank the MCQTL development team, in particular Brigitte Mangin and Sylvain Jasson, who provided technical advice on how to implement parts of our cross-validation procedure for the MCQTL software. We also thank Sylwia Schepella, Stefan Schwertfirm, Felicitas Dittrich, Iris Leineweber, Georg Maier and Kurt Walter for their technical assistance and Florian Steinbacher from the Gewächshauslaborzentrum Dürnast for providing access to the climate chambers for cultivating the corn borer larvae. The authors are also grateful to the field team of the LfL maize breeding group for their excellent technical assistance at the Freising field location and to the field team from the KWS breeding station in Gondelsheim for their help with artificial infestation and stalk dissection at the Münzesheim field location. This research was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) under the “Innovationsförderung” programme (FKZ: 2814504610).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standards

The experiments reported in this study comply with the current laws of Germany.

Supplementary material

122_2015_2477_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (659 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 658 kb)
122_2015_2477_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (113 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 112 kb)
122_2015_2477_MOESM3_ESM.gz (6 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (GZ 7 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Flavio Foiada
    • 1
    • 5
  • Peter Westermeier
    • 1
  • Bettina Kessel
    • 2
  • Milena Ouzunova
    • 2
  • Valentin Wimmer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wolfgang Mayerhofer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Thomas Presterl
    • 2
  • Michael Dilger
    • 3
  • Ralph Kreps
    • 3
  • Joachim Eder
    • 4
  • Chris-Carolin Schön
    • 1
  1. 1.Plant Breeding, Center of Life and Food Sciences WeihenstephanTechnische Universität MünchenFreisingGermany
  2. 2.KWS SAAT AGEinbeckGermany
  3. 3.KWS SAAT AGGondelsheimGermany
  4. 4.Institute for Crop Science and Plant BreedingBavarian State Research Center for AgricultureFreisingGermany
  5. 5.Delley Seeds and Plants Ltd.DelleySwitzerland

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