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This article in CS

  1. Vol. 47 No. 2, p. 665-671
    Received: June 15, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): iaray@nmsu.edu
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Combining Abilities and Heterosis for Forage Yield among High-Yielding Accessions of the Alfalfa Core Collection

  1. H. S. Bhandari,
  2. C. A. Pierce,
  3. L. W. Murray and
  4. I. M. Ray *
  1. H.S. Bhandari, C.A. Pierce, and I.M. Ray, Dep. of Plant and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State Univ., Las Cruces, NM 88003; L.W. Murray, University Statistics Center, New Mexico State Univ., Las Cruces, NM 88003


Characterization of genetic parameters in plant germplasm repository populations can facilitate their utilization in commercial breeding programs. This study investigated genetic combining abilities and heterosis for forage yield among diallel hybrids derived from nine previously selected high-yielding accessions of the USDA-ARS National Plant Germplasm System core collection of alfalfa (Medicago sativa subsp. sativa L.). These accessions originated from Turkey, South Africa, Greece, Afghanistan, Israel, Uzbekistan, Mexico, Morocco, and the USA. Forage yield response of the parents and their hybrids was determined near Las Cruces, New Mexico. General combining ability (GCA) and specific combining ability (SCA) effects were significant. The magnitudes of the GCA effects were about 5% (<0.71 Mg ha−1) relative to the mean yield of the parents (15.4 Mg ha−1). The Turkey, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan accessions demonstrated significant positive GCA effects. Accessions from Greece and Morocco demonstrated negative GCA effects. Six hybrids outperformed the average of six commercial cultivars. Five of these six hybrids demonstrated positive SCA effects. Midparent heterosis ranged from –17 to 17%. The results indicate that crossing between alfalfa populations possessing high per se performance and different fall regrowth responses is likely to produce a higher proportion of high-yielding hybrids in environments experiencing intermittent subfreezing winter conditions.

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