A comparative analysis of conventional and marker assisted selection methods in screening for resistance to maize (Zea mays L.) streak virus disease.
Maize (Zea mays L.) streak virus disease (MSD) is the most important virus disease in Africa but farmers are unaware of its status. A project was initiated to assess the current status of MSD and to breed for its resistance. Four populations comprised of two BC1F1 and two F2 progenies developed by backcrossing and selfing the F1 progenies of two crosses between a donor line (CMl 202) and two susceptible lines (CMl 321 and CMl 384) were developed. Conventional and molecular marker assisted selection (MAS) methods were used to screen for resistance to MSD in each of the four populations. To facilitate unbiased comparison, separate screening nurseries were established for MAS and conventional screening. The objectives of the study were five-fold; 1) to assess the status of MSD in Uganda and understand farmers' preferences and varietal selection criteria for maize using a participatory rural appraisal (PRA), 2) to screen for MSD resistance in early generations of segregating maize populations using conventional method, 3) to screen for resistance to MSD using SSR marker assisted selection , 4) to compare the effectiveness of marker assisted selection and conventional methods for selection for resistance to MSD, and 5) to compare costs associated with MAS and conventional selection methods. Results of PRA showed that unreliable rainfall and insect pests were the dominant constraints to maize productivity in Uganda. Diseases were ranked fifth among the production constraints . Maize streak virus disease was considered the most important disease constraint. Farmers showed common preference for high yielding and early maturing cultivars. However, farmers had other special preferences which were diverse and included large, white and high test density kernels for marketing, and sweet taste, particularly for home consumption. Farmers' research priorities included tolerance to drought, resistance to insect pests and diseases, sweetness, prolificacy, resistance to lodging, and drooping leaves because theyt cover the soil fast and prevent weed growth. Conventional screening for resistance to MSD showed that backcross and selfing populations segregated in 1:1 and 3:1 Mendelian ratios confirming the presence of one major gene with simple inheritance . Severity and incidence of disease were positively correlated suggesting a non-reference by the insects. In the selfing populations, the presence of complete esistance against MSD was suggested because frequency distribution patterns were highly skewed in favour of resistance. There was a decrease in disease severities with selection from BC1F1 to BC2F1 and from F2 to F3 generations indicating that high response to selection was achieved. On the other hand, one marker, umc1917, consistently polymorphic and eo-dominant was selected and used in MAS protocol. Results showed that the observed outcomes fitted the expected ratio of 1:2:1 for a F2 population and 1:1 for a BC1F1 population (X2 not significant). Evaluation of F3 and BC2F1 progeny selected using markers showed low disease severity suggesting that marker assisted selection was effective. However, the study showed that the presence of the O'Tl, was not consistent with symptom expression in the field. Evaluation of lines in three-way crosses identified ten potential lines that were high yielding, highly resistant to MSD and stable across three locations. Both MAS and conventional selection were equally effective in identifying high yielding lines although resistance was higher under MAS. Costs of MAS and conventional method varied depending on the units for comparison. The total costs of conventional method were higher than that of MAS in both first and second selection cycles. Comparing costs per row for conventional and costs per plant or data point for MAS showed that conventional selection was 2.4 times more expensive than costs per sample for MAS. However, costs per plant for MAS were 6.6 times higher than for conventional selection.
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