Testcross performance of doubled haploid lines from European flint maize landraces is promising for broadening the genetic base of elite germplasm

  • Pedro C. Brauner
  • Wolfgang Schipprack
  • H. Friedrich Utz
  • Eva Bauer
  • Manfred Mayer
  • Chris-Carolin Schön
  • Albrecht E. MelchingerEmail author
Original Article


Key message

Selected doubled haploid lines averaged similar testcross performance as their original landraces, and the best of them approached the yields of elite inbreds, demonstrating their potential to broaden the narrow genetic diversity of the flint germplasm pool.


Maize landraces represent a rich source of genetic diversity that remains largely idle because the high genetic load and performance gap to elite germplasm hamper their use in modern breeding programs. Production of doubled haploid (DH) lines can mitigate problems associated with the use of landraces in pre-breeding. Our objective was to assess in comparison with modern materials the testcross performance (TP) of the best 89 out of 389 DH lines developed from six landraces and evaluated in previous studies for line per se performance (LP). TP with a dent tester was evaluated for the six original landraces, ~ 15 DH lines from each landrace selected for LP, and six elite flint inbreds together with nine commercial hybrids for grain and silage traits. Mean TP of the DH lines rarely differed significantly from TP of their corresponding landrace, which averaged in comparison with the mean TP of the elite flint inbreds ~ 20% lower grain yield and ~ 10% lower dry matter and methane yield. Trait correlations of DH lines closely agreed with the literature; correlation of TP with LP was zero for grain yield, underpinning the need to evaluate TP in addition to LP. For all traits, we observed substantial variation for TP among the DH lines and the best showed similar TP yields as the elite inbreds. Our results demonstrate the high potential of landraces for broadening the narrow genetic base of the flint heterotic pool and the usefulness of the DH technology for exploiting idle genetic resources from gene banks.



We thank Willem Molenaar for valuable suggestions to improve the manuscript. We would also like to thank the technical staff from the University of Hohenheim for excellence in conducting the field experiments. We are indebted to KWS SAAT SE for the additional field experiment in Einbeck and Thomas Presterl and Theresa Bolduan for conducting it. This research was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the scope of the funding initiative MAZE “Plant Breeding Research for the Bioeconomy” (Funding ID: 031B0195).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All 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_2019_3325_MOESM1_ESM.docx (161 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 160 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Plant Breeding, Seed Sciences and Population GeneticsUniversity of HohenheimStuttgartGermany
  2. 2.Plant Breeding, TUM School of Life Sciences WeihenstephanTechnical University of MunichFreisingGermany

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