Morpho-physiological traits associated with heat stress tolerance in tropical maize (Zea mays L.) at reproductive stage
Australian Journal of Crop Science
Heat stress resilience has emerged as an important trait in maize hybrids targeted for post–monsoon spring cultivation in large parts of South Asia and many other parts of the tropics. Selection based on grain yield alone under heat stress is often misleading, and therefore an approach involving stress-adaptive secondary traits along with grain yield could help in the development of improved, stable heat stress tolerant cultivars. We attempted to identify reliable and effective secondary traits
... associated with heat stress tolerance in tropical maize and sources of heat stress tolerant germplasm. A panel of 99 elite maize inbred lines representing the wider genetic diversity of tropical maize and a set of 58 elite hybrids were phenotyped under natural heat stress and optimal temperature for grain yield and 15 secondary traits including 10 morpho-physiological traits and 5 yield attributes. Evaluation under natural heat stress was done during the spring season by adjusting the planting date so that the complete reproductive stage (from tassel emergence to late grain filling) was exposed to heat stress. The optimal temperature trial was planted during the monsoon season with no exposure to heat stress at any crop stage. Heat stress significantly affected most of the observed traits. Among the traits studied two yield attributing traits, i.e.- ears per plant (EPP) and kernel per row (KPR), and three morpho-physiological traits, i.e.- chlorophyll content (CC), leaf firing (LF) and tassel blast (TB) were found to be the key secondary traits associated with grain yield under heat stress. In addition, low anthesis-silking internal (ASI) is an important trait that needs to be added in the index selection for heat stress tolerance. The study identified nine promising heat stress tolerant maize inbred lines with desirable secondary traits and grain yield under severe heat stress, which could be used as source germplasm in heat stress tolerance maize breeding program.