Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Plant, Environmental Management and Soil Sciences

Document Type



Maize (Zea mays L.) kernel infection by Aspergillus flavus is a chronic problem in the southern USA. Genetic resistance to A. flavus is needed to solve this problem. To ascertain and understand the inheritance of resistance to field kernel infection by A. flavus, a five-parent diallel analysis and a half-sib family analysis of 35 maize crosses were conducted during 2003 and 2004 for percent kernel infection (PKI) rates. All parents contained the leafy gene (Lfy). From the combining ability analysis of the five maize parents and their 20 F1s, highly significant general combining ability (GCA), specific combining ability (SCA), and reciprocal effects were found. The analysis of genetic effects showed that the parents 914 and A619 had desirable GCA effects to enhance the average performance of A. flavus resistance in hybrid progeny. The crosses 914 �� A632, 914 �� WF9, and HY �� WF9 had consistently negative SCA effects across the two years. These results suggested that resistance to kernel infection by A. flavus existed among the parents and some of their crosses. Their potential performance with desired GCAs and SCAs could be exploited to develop resistant lines in breeding programs and to produce resistant hybrids. The reciprocal effects in the crosses across years reflected the presence of maternal effects in the maize kernel. These effects were partly responsible for resistance to A. flavus and should be considered in making crosses. The cross A632 �� HY had the highest negative significant reciprocal effect, indicating that it should promote resistance to A. flavus. Analyses of the 35 half-sib crosses derived from seven maize breeding lines indicated that both the genotype and genotype-by-year effects were highly significant. Broad-sense heritability for PKI estimated from variance components was 73.8%. A North Carolina Design-II analysis of 12 crosses was used to estimate additive and dominance genetic variances. Narrow-sense heritability and the average degree of dominance for PKI were 37.6% and 1.67, respectively. A comparison of a laboratory-based infection resistance screening (LIRS) with field-based PKI demonstrated that LIRS was effective and could be used to improve maize germplasm screening and to expedite A. flavus resistance breeding.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

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Committee Chair

Manjit S. Kang