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This article in CS

  1. Vol. 31 No. 3, p. 576-579
    Received: Jan 23, 1990

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Genetic Markers to Locate and Transfer Heterotic Chromosome Blocks for Increased Pearl Millet Yields

  1. Glenn W. Burton  and
  2. B. K. Werner
  1. U SDA-ARS, Univ. of Georgia, College of Agriculture, Coastal Plain Exp. Stn., Tifton, GA 31793
    U SDA-ARS, Coastal Plain Exp. Stn., Tifton, GA 31793



The introgression of exotic germplasm by conventional breeding procedures to promote greater heterosis and yield within adapted hybrid cultivars often is a difficult and lengthy process. As part of long-term investigations, the objectives of this study were to evaluate and use nonlethal genetic markers to locate heterotic chromosome blocks (HCBs) in exotic pearl millet [Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R. Br.] lines, develop methods to use the markers to transfer in the future the selected HCBs to inbred T383, and to increase the yield of ‘Tifleaf 2’ (T85A ✕ T383). The nonlethal dominant R gene for red plant color was used to screen 129 pearl millet near-isogenic populations for high-yielding HCBs by measuring height and weight of at least 50 red and 50 green spaced plants in each population. In 27 populations, HCB heterosis [(green — red plant wt)/red plant wt) ✕ 100] ranged from 18 to 61% (P < 0.01). The nonlethal tr gene for the trichomeless condition was used to screen 91 pearl millet populations for HCB heterosis = [(Tr - tr plant wt)/tr plant wt) ✕ 100]. In 52 of these populations, HCB heterosis ranged from 17 to 44% (P < 0.01). The best HCBs are being transferred to inbred T383, the male parent of Tifleaf 2, using the genetic markers R and tr to follow the HCBs during the backcross transfer. The design calls for completing three to four backcross generations per year. When top-yielding HCBs identified by R and tr become a part of the gene complex of T383, T85A ✕ T383 HCB can be expected to outyield T85A ✕ T383. Plant height measurements were of no value in screening exotic lines for high yielding HCBs.

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