Genetic basis of maize production in Eastern Central Europe between 1610 and 2005

Summary

In every time, the genetic basis of maize production is represented by the varieties and hybrids grown on the greatest area. It is interesting to note that, compared with the number of races and varieties available, there has always been only a small number of varieties that dominated the given maize production era.

Chronologically, the Old Hungarian Yellow Flint group of varieties was popular from 1610–1914, American dent varieties (Iowa Goldmine, Queen of the Prairie, etc.) from 1900–1920, Bánkúti (Late) Dent from 1910–1935 and the varieties developed by Fleischmann from 1935–1960. Hybrid maize production was based on Mindszentpusztai Yellow Dent up till 1983 and on Iodent from 1983 onwards. Among the varieties previously popular for human consumption (porridge) in Eastern Central Europe, varieties related to Cinquantino and Pignoletto dominated variety use for a long period, and varieties in the Lapusnyaki group for a shorter time.

The group of popular varieties, which were originally improved varieties, and others related to them, make up the “useful” part, or “heart core” of the genetic variability of maize in Eastern Central Europe. Due to the special methods employed for variety development and variety maintenance in this region, it is not difficult to identify variants of these previously popular varieties on the basis of morphological traits. These are of potential value. In many cases variety collections also include varieties developed by breeders or farmers, which differ genetically and morphologically from the popular varieties, but only increase the number of items in the collection. Experience shows that the adapted varieties that remained popular for a long period were used in maize breeding as sources of heterosis, while these latter were used as simple gene sources.

The pure line method has been used widely and still holds the promise of success. As yet there does not appear to be any fundamentally new method that could replace it to make breeding more efficient.

In each era, creative breeders developed competitive new varieties by exploiting the useful genetic variability available, so from the evolutionary point of view, new varieties should be regarded as foundation populations. Banning or restricting the re-utilisation of these populations could block the human regulation of evolution and limit increases in food production.

The key question in maize breeding is always the active possession, practical preservation and systematic improvement of the type of biodiversity that is useful from the economic point of view in breeding.

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Hadi, G. Genetic basis of maize production in Eastern Central Europe between 1610 and 2005. CEREAL RESEARCH COMMUNICATIONS 34, 1307–1314 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1556/CRC.34.2006.4.273

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Key words

  • maize
  • breeding
  • diversity
  • genetic resources