Theoretical and Applied Genetics

, Volume 130, Issue 5, pp 861–873 | Cite as

Tapping the genetic diversity of landraces in allogamous crops with doubled haploid lines: a case study from European flint maize

  • Juliane Böhm
  • Wolfgang Schipprack
  • H. Friedrich Utz
  • Albrecht E. MelchingerEmail author
Original Article


Key message

Using landraces for broadening the genetic base of elite maize germplasm is hampered by heterogeneity and high genetic load. Production of DH line libraries can help to overcome these problems.


Landraces of maize (Zea mays L.) represent a huge reservoir of genetic diversity largely untapped by breeders. Genetic heterogeneity and a high genetic load hamper their use in hybrid breeding. Production of doubled haploid line libraries (DHL) by the in vivo haploid induction method promises to overcome these problems. To test this hypothesis, we compared the line per se performance of 389 doubled haploid (DH) lines across six DHL produced from European flint landraces with that of four flint founder lines (FFL) and 53 elite flint lines (EFL) for 16 agronomic traits evaluated in four locations. The genotypic variance (\(\sigma _{G}^{2}\)) within DHL was generally much larger than that among DHL and exceeded also \(\sigma _{G}^{2}\) of the EFL. For most traits, the means and \(\sigma _{G}^{2}\) differed considerably among the DHL, resulting in different expected selection gains. Mean grain yield of the EFL was 25 and 62% higher than for the FFL and DHL, respectively, indicating considerable breeding progress in the EFL and a remnant genetic load in the DHL. Usefulness of the best 20% lines was for individual DHL comparable to the EFL and grain yield (GY) in the top lines from both groups was similar. Our results corroborate the tremendous potential of landraces for broadening the narrow genetic base of elite germplasm. To make best use of these “gold reserves”, we propose a multi-stage selection approach with optimal allocation of resources to (1) choose the most promising landraces for DHL production and (2) identify the top DH lines for further breeding.


Seed Bank Double Haploid Female Flowering Double Haploid Line General Combine Ability 
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 Jochen Jesse, Linda Homann, and the staff of the experimental station of the University of Hohenheim in Eckartsweier for managing the field experiments. Furthermore, we thank KWS in Einbeck for providing an additional location for conducting field experiments and Dr. T. Presterl and T. Bolduan for carefully managing those. This research was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the AgroClustEr “Synbreed—Synergistic plant and animal breeding” (FKZ: 0315528D) and the project “Verbesserung quantitativer Merkmale durch Erschließung genomischer und funktionaler Diversität aus Mais-Landrassen (MAZE)” (FKZ: 031B0195F). We are indebted to two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments that helped to improve the quality of our manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

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_2017_2856_MOESM1_ESM.docx (367 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 367 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Plant Breeding, Seed Science and Population GeneticsUniversity of HohenheimStuttgartGermany

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