Genetic analysis and selection for maize weevil resistance in maize.
The maize weevil (Sitophilus zeamais Motschulsky) is one of the most destructive storage insect pest of maize (Zea mays L.) in tropical Africa and worldwide, especially when susceptible varieties are grown. Therefore, grain resistance against the maize weevil should be part of a major component of an integrated maize weevil management strategy. The specific objectives of this study were to: i) determine farmers’ perceptions about weevil resistance in maize cultivars; ii) determine the genotypic variation for maize weevil resistance in eastern and southern Africa maize germplasm lines; iii) study the gene action conditioning weevil resistance in the inbred line populations from eastern and southern Africa maize germplasm and to measure their combining ability for yield and weevil resistance; iv) determine the effectiveness of two cycles of modified S1 recurrent selection in improving a tropical maize population “Longe5” for weevil resistance and agronomic superiority and v) evaluate the effectiveness of the “weevil warehouse techniques” compared to the “laboratory bioassay technique” as methods of maize screening against the maize weevil. A participatory rural appraisal (PRA) was conducted in three districts between December 2010 and January 2011, to gather information on the maize weevil pest status in Uganda and farmers’ perceptions about improved maize varieties and the major attributes desired in new maize varieties. Over 95% of farmers knew the maize weevil and its pest status, and were reportedly controlling the maize weevil using wood ashes, red pepper and Cupressus sempervirens. The estimated postharvest weight losses attributed to weevil damage was over 20% within a storage period of four months. The most highly ranked attributes desired in the new maize varieties included high grain yield, tolerance to drought and low nitrogen stresses, resistance to field pests and diseases, good storability and resistance to storage pests. In the search for new sources of weevil resistance, a total of 180 inbred lines from three different geographical areas were screened for weevil resistance using the laboratory bioassay technique. Eight inbred lines (MV21, MV23, MV75, MV102, MV142, MV154, MV157, and MV170) were consistently grouped in the resistant class, and therefore selected as potential donors for weevil resistance in the maize improvement programs. Large significant genetic variations for weevil resistance, and high levels of heritability (89 – 96%) were observed. The results revealed that there was no significant association between maize weevil resistance andgrain yield; suggesting that breeding for maize weevil resistance can be achieved without compromising grain yield. Eight weevil resistant and two susceptible inbred line parents were crossed in a 10 x 10 full diallel mating design and the resulting 45 experimental hybrids and their reciprocal crosses evaluated for grain yield and secondary traits under four environments, and also to determine the gene action regulating their expression. The F1 hybrid seed, F2 full-sib and F2 half-sib grain generated from the 45 experimental hybrids and their reciprocals under two environments in Namulonge, were evaluated for weevil resistance using F1 weevil progeny emergence, median development period (MDP), Dobie’s index of susceptibility (DIS), and parental weevil mortality as susceptibility parameters. The general combing ability (GCA), specific combining ability (SCA), and reciprocal effects were all significant for grain yield, with SCA accounting for over 80% of the hybrid sum of squares. Inbred line parent MV44 exhibited positive significant GCA for grain yield and thus can be utilized in the development of synthetics and hybrids. Hybrids MV21 x MV13, MV154 x MV44, and MV154 x MV102 and all hybrids between parent MV142 and the rest of the parental lines exhibited positive and significant SCA effects. For the weevil resistance parameters, the general combining ability (GCA), specific combining ability (SCA) and reciprocal effects were all significant for F1 weevil progeny emergence, MDP, and DIS in the three seed categories. The results revealed that weevil resistance was governed by additive gene action, non-additive, and maternal effects. Parents MV170 and MV142 were consistently exhibiting weevil resistance in the three seed categories and thus recommended for future breeding strategies. Furthermore, most of the hybrids generated from parental line M142 were noted to exhibit outstanding performance in terms of grain yield and weevil resistance. Another study was conducted to determine the effectiveness of two cycles of modified S1 recurrent selection towards the improvement of weevil resistance in a maize population Longe5. Over 540 selfed ears were selected from the source population (C0) and screened for weevil resistance in the laboratory at Namulonge. Based on weevil resistance characteristics, 162 genotypes were selected from C0 and recombined in an isolated field to generate cycle C1. The same procedure was used for generating cycle C2 from cycle C1, but instead 190 weevil resistant C1 genotypes were selected and recombined to form C2. Seed from cycles C1 and C2, together with that from the source population (C0), was used to plant an evaluation trial in three locations, to compare the performance of the three cycles in terms of grain yield and reaction to the major foliar diseases, and also to produce seed for subsequent screening against weevil ii infestation. A total of 54 seed samples were screened for weevil resistance in a laboratory at Namulonge, in an experiment laid out in a randomized complete block design. A reduction in grain weight loss of 65% was registered in the C2 seed, whereas in C1 seed it was 15%. A similar trend was observed for F1 weevil progeny emergence and grain damage. Grain yield results indicated a yield gain of 19% realized from cycle C2 while a yield gain of 7% was realized from cycle C1. Furthermore, reductions in disease severity of 27%, 10% and 13% were exhibited for Turcicum leaf blight (TLB), grey leaf spot (GLS) and rust disease, respectively in cycle C2. The results indicated that Longe5 can be improved for maize weevil resistance, grain yield, and resistance to foliar diseases through selection. Further recurrent selection cycles would be recommended. The last study was aimed at evaluating the potential of shelled grain and suspended ear options of the weevil warehouse technique in discriminating maize genotypes into different susceptibility classes, based on genotype response to weevil attack. It involved comparing the effectiveness of the two options under the weevil warehouse technique with the laboratory bioassay technique using grain damage and grain weight loss as the maize grain susceptibility parameters. Fourteen maize genotypes were screened using the weevil warehouse and the laboratory bioassay techniques at Namulonge. On grouping the 14 genotypes into different response classes, high levels of consistency were observed in the three screening techniques. Therefore, the two weevil warehouse screening options being faster and effective in discriminating maize cultivars towards weevil attack, they were found to be better than the laboratory bioassay technique. The minimum evaluation period required to discriminate genotypes by the two weevil warehouse options was two months from the onset of the experiment. The maize weevil was noted to be an important storage pest constraining maize production in Uganda. The major weevil control measures included proper postharvest handling procedures and use of indigenous technical knowledge. The results also revealed that host plant resistance could significantly reduce grain damage. It was further revealed that grain resistance against the maize weevil could be enhanced through hybridization and recurrent selection; thus the germplasm identified in the study can provide new sources of maize weevil resistance for commercial deployment and further breeding.