Genetic analysis of quantitative traits in soybean (Glycine max L. Merril) under low and high phosphorus conditions.
Soybean is emerging as a very important food, market and oil crop in Ethiopia. However, its productivity in Western Ethiopia is constrained by several production constraints, of which soil acidity is one of the most important ones. On acidic soils the availability of several plant nutrients is limited; among which phosphorus is the least available. Thus, development of high yielding and low P tolerant soybean varieties need to be among the top priorities in areas with such problematic soils. Therefore, the objectives of the study were to: 1) conduct a Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) study to assess farmers’ perception on various soil fertility, soybean consumption and marketing issues, 2) evaluate soybean genotypes under low and high P regimes, and 3) conduct genetic analysis of soybean performance under low and high P conditions. The PRA was conducted to assess farmers’ perception on various soil fertility, soybean consumptions and market issues. A total of 186 soybean producing farmers across three locations of Western Ethiopia were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire. Results from the study indicated that the use of soybean for crop rotation and soil fertility improvement was more important to the farmers than household consumption and marketing of the crop. The study also revealed poor demand for soybean compared to other crops on the local market. The majority of respondent farmers’ recognized that soil fertility has been declining over time and obtaining inorganic fertilizers on time was difficult; mainly due to high price of fertilizer. Though farmers’ cooperative was identified as the major supplier of fertilizer, farmers rated the quality of its service in supplying fertilizer as poor. With deteriorating soil fertility and limited capacity to use inorganic fertilizers, farmers are producing soybean under low soil fertility conditions. Thus, breeding programs need to develop varieties that perform well under low fertility soil. Screening soybean genotypes for response to different P regimes was performed in a field experiment using a split plot design, where the main plots were three levels of applied P (0, 100 and 200 kg ha-1 P), and the sub plots were 36 soybean genotypes (G) planted across three locations (L) with two replications. The extent of genetic variation of the 36 soybean genotypes was assessed under low (0 kg ha-1) and high P (100 kg ha-1) conditions. The analysis of variance revealed significant differences among genotypes for all the traits, except pod number at low P; while all the traits, except root volume, pod number, and number of seeds per pod showed significant differences at high P. Plant fresh weight, root fresh weight and root volume exhibited high genotypic coefficient of variation (GCV) and phenotypic coefficient of variation (PCV) under both P conditions. Both principal component and cluster analyses revealed variation in the population. The 100-seed weight, plant height, roots and plant fresh weight combined high heritability and genetic advance estimates indicating that the inheritance of such traits is controlled by additive gene action under both P conditions. In general, the study revealed high genetic variation in the population, which can be exploited to improve performance under both high and low P conditions. The analysis of variance revealed significant genotype X phosphorus (GXP) interaction for number of nodules and total nodule weight at Jimma, and Assossa, and for root weight and root volume at Mettu. Though the GXP and GXPXL interactions showed non-significant difference for across locations analysis, the genotypes displayed significant difference for root fresh weight, root volume, tap root length, and weight of effective nodule. Genotypes: Pr-142 (26), AGS-3-1, SCS-1, AGS 234, and H 3 were identified among the best for root and nodulation characteristics. Yield and yield related traits were also assessed separately in the screening program. The results revealed significant GXP interactions for grain yield only at one site; while the genotypes exhibited highly significant differences for most of the traits in all the sites. G and GXL interaction were significantly different for most the traits. Essex 1, IAC 11, and AGS-3-1 were the best performing genotypes at high P; while genotypes IAC 11, AA 7138, G 9945 and AGS-7-1 displayed tolerance to low P. Genotypes AA-7138, PR-142 (26) and H3 exhibited stable performance across the three P levels. These genotypes have paramount significance in breeding soybean for low P tolerance and stable performance in varying P conditions for resource poor subsistence farmers.The genetic control mechanism for the major quantitative traits for performance under high and low P condition was studied in a nine parent half diallel cross. The results revealed that the GCA effects were highly significant for grain yield, pod length, days to maturity and plant height under low-P conditions. GCA effects were highly significant for grain yield, 100-seed weight, days to maturity, plant height, pod number, and pod length under high P. GCA effects were also significant for number of seeds per pod under high P condition. In addition, the relative contribution of GCA was higher than SCA under both P conditions, except for 100-seed weight at low P. Variety Hardee-1 was the best general combiner for most of the quantitative traits under both P conditions, indicating that it can be used in breeding programs to improve soybean for better genetic response to low and high P.
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