Quantitative genetics of maize (Zea mays L.) during seedling establishment under cool conditions : a thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Agricultural Science in Plant Science at Massey University
Two experiments were conducted to study cool tolerance in maize (Zea mays L.). The first experiment was carried out under controlled environment to evaluate several genotypes from five synthetic populations which are currently being used to develop hybrid maize for better adaptation to New Zealand climate and to study the qualitative inheritance of maize seedling growth under cool conditions. In this study, diurnal temperature of 16 °C day/6 °C night was used and characters related to seedling growth were examined. The second experiment conducted to study the effect of temperature on maize during its early growth and to examine whether the initial seed constitution and germination characteristics could be used as selection criteria for improvement of the subsequent seedling growth. Eleven physical, chemical, and morphological characters were measured. The growth was studied in germinators under two temperature regimes of 25/20 and 16/6 °C. The genotypic variation was highly significant for all nine characters examined in the first experiment. For the three repeatedly measured characters (i.e. chlorophyll content, shoot and root dry masses), the genotype x time interaction effect was significant. In the second experiment, the variation due to genotypic difference was highly significant only for the initial seed constitution characters and the amount of ion leakage during the early hours of germination process. It was non significant for the time to germinate, seedling growth rates, and seedling growth functions. The variation due to the difference of temperature regimes was significant for the time to germinate and seedling growth but not the growth functions. The genotypes of synthetic line NZS3 showed the best performance for general combining ability (GCA) for almost all characters studied in the first experiment. From all genotypes evaluated, however, only few of them consistently showed good GCA over the characters. Four of the characters studied in the first experiment had moderate to high narrow sense heritabilities, namely total leaves at 50 days after planting (82 %), chlorophyll content (46 %), anthocyanin (69%), and leaf area (62 %). In the second experiment, the estimated broad sense heritabilities observed ranged from very low to very high over all characters. The high broad sense heritabilities were recorded on most of the initial seed constitution characters, the conductivity of ion leakage, and the growth rates of root (length) and shoot (dry mass). Both the phenotypic and genotypic correlation coefficients between pairs are in good agreement and followed the same direction. Amongst the characters examined in the first experiment only time to achieve second mature leaf, total leaf number at 50 day after planting, chlorophyll content, leaf area had considerable correlations to the dry masses. In the second experiment a good correlation with growth rate was observed for the seed weight, nitrogen and maltose contents.