Combining ability and associations of agronomic traits involving three sources of dwarfism in wheat (Triticum aestivum, L. em Thell) Public Deposited

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  • Three genetically different dwarf cultivars of spring wheat were evaluated as potential sources of short stature to use in a wheat improvement program. The study involved a five parent diallel cross which included a semidwarf, a standard height and three dwarf cultivars. The genetic sources of dwarfism included a Norma 10 derivative named Vicam 71, a derived line from Tom Thumb called Tordo, and Olesen dwarf. Experimental material consisted of parental lines, F₁, F₂, and both backcrosses to the parents space planted in a randomized block design. The agronomic characters measured on an individual plant basis were: (1) plant height, (2) days to heading, (3) number of tillers, (4) number of spikelets per spike, (5) head length, (6) days to maturity, (7) grain yield, (8) harvest index, (9) kernel weight, (10) number of kernels per spikelet, (11) rachis internode length, (12) grain filling period and, (13) head grain weight. Estimates of gene action were determined by heterosis, heterobeltiosis, broad and narrow sense heritabilities and combining ability analyses. Associations among traits were estimated by phenotypic, environmental, and genotypic correlations as well as path-coefficient analysis for grain yield and eight of the variables. There were significant differences among the parental lines, their crosses, and generations for all traits measured. Either partial dominance for tallness or no dominance was manifested for those crosses involving the dwarf cultivars Vicam 71 and Olesen. Tordo, when crossed to taller wheats showed dominance for short stature. All three genetic sources of dwarfism and their resulting progenies manifested desirable agronomic characteristics. Vicam 71 was a good parent in terms of grain yield and number of tillers per plant. Tordo was the best source for increasing the number of spikelets per spike, kernel weight and head grain weight. Olesen was a good progenitor for increasing number of kernels per spikelet. All three dwarf cultivars displayed some advantage(s) over the other two and all could be used to breed short statured wheats with a possibility of success. Plant height did not appear to have a direct effect on plant grain yield in any of the 10 crosses. With the exception of number of tillers per plant and grain yield, a major proportion of the phenotypic variability observed for all characters studied was due to genetic factors. A large portion of the total genetic variability associated with days to heading, maturity, height, rachis internode, spikelet number, kernels per spikelet, kernel weight, and harvest index was mainly a result of additive gene action. Both additive and non-additive genetic effects were involved in the expression of grain filling period and head weight. The nonadditive portion of the genetic variance associated with tiller number and grain yield per plant was relatively large when compared with the additive portion. Therefore, selection for increased expression of tillers and yield should be delayed until the F₄ or later generations where a large degree of homozygosity has been obtained. The genetic correlations for individual crosses indicated that only a few of the traits studied were associated in the same manner in most or all the 10 hybridizations. High positive genetic correlations were found between plant grain yield vs tiller number and kernels per spikelet, tiller number vs days to maturity, kernels per spikelet vs head grain weight, plant height vs head weight, and head length vs rachis internode length. High negative genetic correlations were found between kernel weight vs days to maturity, plant height vs harvest index, and days to heading vs grain filling period. Most correlations among agronomic traits were different in value and/or sign from one cross to another suggesting different gene associations in the parental cultivars. Genetic correlations between components of yield showed this type of inconsistency. Therefore, grain yield could be increased by a combined increase of more than one component of yield without compensatory oscillation among them because tiller number, spikelet number, kernels per spikelet and kernel weight were often not correlated between one another and sometimes were positively correlated. Path-coefficients analysis indicated that number of tiller per plant had a high direct effect on grain yield in all crosses. With the exception of two crosses, indirect effects of this trait were negligible. In the latter two crosses tiller number had a high negative indirect effect on plant grain yield via head grain weight. Kernels per spikelet and kernel weight had no direct effects on grain yield but their indirect effects via head weight were positive and significant. Large amounts of additive gene action were observed in the expression of plant height. This trait was also highly negatively correlated with harvest index; therefore, phenotypic selection for restricted plant height would be useful in obtaining lines with high grain to straw ratios. In general, crosses that showed high specific combining ability effects involved parents with low general combining ability. However, there were some exceptions to this rule. Crosses of high x high and high x low general combiners presented high specific combining ability effects, suggesting that some additive gene action may be involved in the superior performance of these combinations. Also the F ₂ generation did not differ from the F₁ in assessing general cornbining ability. A wheat breeder should be aware of those genetic associations between agronomic traits that could be used to select superior cultivars. However, the genetic correlations in this study suggested that each cross represented a different set of gene associations depending upon the parents involved. If some progress is to be made in using the genetic variability available in the crop, the breeder should not try to select exactly the same type of plant from every cross. Every hybridization is potentially a source of better lines if they are well planned and the reasons they were made are remembered during selection. It is very important to realize what are the contributions of each parental line in a cross and what are the most important trait associations present in each parent. Superior rural genetic variability existing in the crop.
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