Feasibility of Mass Selection in Pearl Millet
- H. F. Rattunde ,
- Pheru Singh and
- J. R. Witcombe
Mass selection is a technique widely used in both population and pedigree breeding of pearl millet, Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br. To determine the feasibility of mass selecting for 19 agronomic traits of pearl millet, we (i) estimated trait heritabilities on both a single-plant and a progeny-mean basis and (ii) observed responses of S1 progenies to divergent selection on parental S0 plants. Fourteen hundred and forty S0 spaced plants from each of three pearl millet composites were self-pollinated and evaluated for 19 traits at Patancheru, India on a Udic Rhodostalf soil. Random samples of 289 S1 progenies from each S0 population were evaluated for these same traits in triple-lattice experiments at the same location. Heritabilities estimated on a progeny-mean basis were all significantly (P < 0.01) larger than zero. Heritabilities estimated on a single-plant basis were highest for traits such as panicle length (0.64), plant height (0.58), and seed weight (0.52); they were intermediate straw yield (0.40); and they were lowest for grain yield (0.29), threshing ratio (0.24), and harvest index (0.23), averaged across composites. Divergent selection of the highest and lowest decile of S0 plants identified S1 progenies with significantly (P < 0.05) increased and decreased means, respectively, for panicle and seed characteristics in all composites and for grain yield in two of the composites. Selection for increased efficiency of dry matter partitioning, however, was ineffective. The observed heritability values suggest that mass selection of pearl millet can be effective for all traits examined, with the rate of gain being proportional to the magnitude of those values.
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