Estimates of heterosis for five agronomic traits in selected winter x spring and winter x winter wheat crosses (Triticum aestivum L. em Thell) Public Deposited

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  • Concern regarding the lack of genetic variability and the apparent yield plateau reached in wheat breeding have prompted this investigation. The systematic crossing of spring and winter wheat types which have evolved to form somewhat different gene pools, may provide a source of additional usable genetic variability for future yield increases. Five winter and five spring wheat cultivars with different degrees of genetic similarities in their pedigrees were crossed to obtain F1's and F2's. The parents plus winter x spring F1's were planted in two growing seasons at Hyslop Agronomy Farm near Corvallis, Oregon. During the second season the winter x spring F2 and winter x winter F1 crosses were also included. Agronomic traits were measured on an individual plant basis. These traits were plant height, number of tillers per plant, 100 kernel weight, number of kernels per spike and grain yield. Analyses of variance were conducted for each trait. Estimates of the amount of usable genetic variation were determined by heterosis values, inbreeding depression and parent-progeny standard regressions. Possible interactions between years and the above five characters were determined for the winter x spring F1's. Evidence of non-additive gene action was found in the expression of heterosis and subsequent inbreeding depression which depended on the specific trait measured and the parents involved in the cross. The greatest heterosis values were noted for grain yield per plant. Crosses with the winter parent, Weique Red Mace, resulted in the highest estimates for grain yield. This was due to the late maturity of these hybrids and to the diverse genetic background of this winter parent compared to the five spring parents. Parent-progeny regressions indicated that a large amount of additive genetic variance was present for plant height, 100 kernel weight and grain yield an intermediate amount for kernels per spike and tillers per plant. Winter x spring F1 crosses resulted in higher heterosis estimates and a wider range of values between crosses than winter x winter F1 crosses. Parent-progeny regression estimates were similar in value for the two types of F1 populations. Thus, these results indicate that the systematic crossing between winter and spring wheats will produce greater total genetic variability for further wheat improvement. This is true for the development of hybrid wheat (non-additive) and may also be promising for conventional breeding programs when only the additive portion of the total genetic variance can be used. The data support the general conclusion that the amount of heterosis is a function of genetic diversity between the two parents. Those breeders working on hybrid wheat may wish to look at winter x spring crosses as a means of maximizing heterosis. However, since a significant interaction between years x F1's was noted for the traits measured, more than one year of evaluation will be necessary if winter x spring crosses are employed.
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