Feasibilty of zein proteins, simple sequence repeats and phenotypic traits for background selection in quality protein maize breeding
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Widespread adoption of quality protein maize (QPM), especially among tropical farming systems has been slow mainly due to the slow process of generating varieties with acceptable kernel quality and adaptability to different agroecological contexts. A molecular based foreground selection system for opaque 2 (o2), the cause of enhanced lysine content in maize exists. Background selection systems albeit, are poorly developed in spite of the mapping of putative loci associated with kernel modification and knowledge on causes of modification. The aim of this study was to develop background selection systems for o2 introgression into locally adapted genotypes. Experiments were conducted at Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute, Kabanyolo (MUARIK), in Uganda on backcross progeny (BC1F1) and BC2F2), derived from a locally adapted line 136R and a QPM donor CML176. We tested the use of zein proteins known to influence modification as well as DNA markers and phenotypic descriptors as tools for background selection for recurrent parent genome and modifier loci in locally adapted maize genotypes. Simply inherited traits such as maize streak virus disease resistance were suitable for background selection. Other traits include plant and ear heights. The simple sequence repeats markers mapped to chromosomes 3, 5, 7, respectively and associated with quantitative trait loci (QTL) conditioning resistance in maize to grey leaf spot and anthesis to silking interval were suitable for assay of recurrent parent genome. The 27-kDa g zein protein levels was suitable for background selection for kernel modification. It should, however, be used along with other zeins such as the 22 kDa and 19 kDa zein proteins.