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Research Project: Broadening the Genetic Base of U.S. Maize with Genes from Unadapted Germplasm

Location: Plant Science Research

Title: Identification of resistance to aflatoxin accumulation and yield potential in maize hybrids in the Southeast Regional Aflatoxin Trials (SERAT)

Author
item Wahl, Nancy - Texas A&M University
item Murray, Seth - Texas A&M University
item Isakeit, Thomas - Texas A&M University
item Krakowsky, Matthew
item Windham, Gary
item Williams, William
item Guo, Baozhu
item Ni, Xinzhi
item Knoll, Joseph - Joe
item Scully, Brian
item Xu, Wenwei - Texas A&M University
item Mayfield, Kerry - Chromatin, Inc

Submitted to: Crop Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/26/2016
Publication Date: 1/17/2017
Citation: Wahl, N., Murray, S., Isakeit, T., Krakowsky, M.D., Windham, G.L., Williams, W.P., Guo, B., Ni, X., Knoll, J.E., Scully, B.T., Xu, W., Mayfield, K. 2017. Identification of resistance to aflatoxin accumulation and yield potential in maize hybrids in the Southeast Regional Aflatoxin Trials (SERAT). Crop Science. 57:202-2015.

Interpretive Summary: Aflatoxin is a toxin produced by a fungus that attacks several important crops species such as peanuts, cotton and corn. Contamination of corn with aflatoxin usually occurs when growing conditions are hot and stressful for the plant, so the problem is present in the south and southeastern US most years, while occurring in the mid-West only occasionally. Host plant resistance is believed to be the most effective means of controlling contamination from aflatoxin, and several public corn breeding programs in the south and southeast have been developing corn germplasm with improved resistance. The Southeast Regional Aflatoxin Trial was created in 2003 as a means to allow breeders form different programs the means to have their best material tested at multiple locations each year, thereby improving the efficiency of their programs. The results of the trials are presented herein and several promising entries are highlighted.

Technical Abstract: Aflatoxins pose a serious health hazard to humans and livestock, requiring significant economic cost in identifying and disposing of contaminated grain. Since 2003, a multi-environmental trial of public breeding maize (Zea mays L.) hybrids across multiple programs in the southeastern United States has evaluated accumulation of aflatoxin following inoculation with the fungus, Aspergillus flavus. The Southeast Regional Aflatoxin Trial (SERAT) was formed to identify public germplasm with the most consistent resistance to aflatoxin accumulation, and to evaluate their essential agronomic traits in different environments. Yield and related agronomic traits were evaluated in 13 locations; aflatoxin in four. From 2006 to 2015, the 295 experimental hybrids, composed of varying percentages of tropical and subtropical germplasm, exhibited lower levels of aflatoxin on average at 323 ppb versus 370 ppb for the commercial checks, while the check average of 10.1 t/ha exceeded the research program average yield by 20%. Repeatability for log-transformed aflatoxin exceeded 0.50 in most years while yield was mostly above 0.75. Testing for Type II stability indicated a positive response of high yielders to better environments. The SERAT program enabled the identification of 13 top performing experimental hybrids that have yielded on par with or exceeded check averages, and had aflatoxin levels significantly lower than check averages.