Evaluating three potential sources of germplasm to improve growth rate, grain yield, and harvest index in pearl millet

Bramel-Cox, Paula
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Sixteen genotypes of pearl millet representing adapted and unadapted cultivars and hybrids and weedy and wild accessions were evaluated for growth patterns and for their potential for improving grain yield, growth rate, and several other traits in the crop. Progeny from matings of two adapted inbred lines with three exotic accessions, a primitive landrace, a weedy relative, and a wild relative, also were evaluated for grain yield and growth rate improvement;The wild accession had a higher growth rate than the other genotypes and this was caused by a difference in early growth patterns. The wild and weedy accessions had greater growth rate, biological yield, and effective basal tiller percentage than the other genotypes, but they had several undesirable traits. Matings involving wild, weedy, and landraces produced 18%, 44%, and 24%, respectively, of high transgressive segregates for grain yield. The segregates with the highest mean yield came from a mating that involved the landrace parent, but it was possible to select lines with high grain yield and growth rate combined with good agronomic traits from any mating;The best parent for short-term improvement was the primitive landrace because it produced lines with increased grain yield and did not cause a concomitant reduction in agronomic quality. No trait association occurred in any of the six matings that would interfere with desirable genes from any of the exotic parents to improve pearl millet. Some groups of traits that affected a common physiological process were correlated with growth rate.

Agronomy, Plant breeding and cytogenetics