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Improving Nitrogen-Use Efficiency in European Maize


This article in CS

  1. Vol. 43 No. 4, p. 1259-1265
    Received: Nov 8, 2001

    * Corresponding author(s): presterl@uni-hohenheim.de
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  1. T. Presterl *a,
  2. G. Seitzb,
  3. M. Landbeckc,
  4. E. M. Thiemta,
  5. W. Schmidtc and
  6. H. H. Geigera
  1. a State Plant Breeding Institute, Univ. of Hohenheim, D-70593 Stuttgart, Germany
    b AgReliant Genetics, Westfield, IN 46074, USA
    c KWS SAAT AG, 37555 Einbeck, Germany


Maize (Zea mays L.) cultivars with improved N-use efficiency would be beneficial for low-input production systems. Our objective was to estimate quantitative genetic parameters to optimize breeding programs for improving productivity under low N levels. Results of 21 field experiments with European breeding materials belonging to the flint and dent gene pool are presented. The study was performed during 1989 and 1999 at several locations in typical maize growing regions of Germany and France. All experiments were conducted at high (HN) and low (LN, no N fertilizer applied) N levels. Average grain yield was reduced by 37% at LN compared with HN. Coefficients of genotypic correlation between HN and LN were variable with an average of r G = 0.74 for grain yield and generally high for grain dry matter content. For grain yield, analyses of variance were computed from relative data, where plot values were expressed as percentage of the trial mean. Variances caused by genotype (G), G × location (L) interaction, and error effects were higher at LN compared with HN, with similar heritabilities at both N levels. For the untransformed data, components of variance were higher at HN than at LN. Genotype × N as well as G × L × N level interaction variances were significant in most experiments. Efficiency of improvement of grain yield at LN through indirect selection at HN was 70% compared with direct selection at LN. A trend toward increased efficiency of direct selection under LN conditions was evident with decreasing grain yield at LN.

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Copyright © 2003. Crop Science Society of AmericaPublished in Crop Sci.43:1259–1265.