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Hybrid seed set in wheat is a complex trait but can be improved indirectly by selection for male floral traits

Boeven, PhilippH. G., Würschum, Tobias, Rudloff, Julia, Ebmeyer, Erhard, Longin, C.Friedrich H.
Euphytica 2018 v.214 no.7 pp. 110
Triticum aestivum, cross pollination, extrusion, females, flowering date, genetic variance, heritability, hybrids, males, phenotypic variation, plant breeding, plant height, seed set, wheat
Efficient hybrid wheat breeding requires the redesign of the wheat floral architecure to enhance cross-pollination. Several studies evaluated the phenotypic variation and the genetic architecture of male floral traits, but their contribution to the most important trait, hybrid seed set on the female parent, has not yet been considered. To bridge this gap, we employed 31 male lines and evaluated the hybrid seed set on two female tester lines in crossing blocks. Hybrid seed set showed large genetic variance and high heritability, which demonstrates the potential for the improvement of this trait. However, the assessment of hybrid seed set is difficult as secondary traits like plant height and especially flowering time, as well as the environment largely influence the hybrid seed set. Nevertheless, a moderately high correlation between visual anther extrusion and hybrid seed set opens up the possibility to use visual anther extrusion as an indirect trait for preliminary male screenings. Further research evaluating traits influencing female receptivity coupled with genomics-assisted approaches are highly recommended to develop an improved selection portfolio for maximizing hybrid seed set.