Genetic gains with rapid-cycle genomic selection for combined drought and waterlogging tolerance in tropical maize (Zea mays L.)
Rapid cycle genomic selection (RC-GS) helps to shorten the breeding cycle and reduce the costs of phenotyping, thereby increasing genetic gains in terms of both cost and time. We implemented RC-GS on two multi-parent yellow synthetic (MYS) populations constituted by intermating ten elite lines involved in each population, including four each of drought and waterlogging tolerant donors and two commercial lines, with proven commercial value. Cycle 1 (C1) was constituted based on phenotypic selection and intermating of the top 5% of 500 S2 families derived from each MYS population, test-crossed and evaluated across moisture regimes. C1 was advanced to the next two cycles (C2 and C3) by intermating the top 5% selected individuals with high genomic estimated breeding values (GEBVs) for grain yield under drought and waterlogging stress. To estimate genetic gains, population bulks from each cycle were test-crossed and evaluated across locations under different moisture regimes. Results indicated that the realised genetic gain under drought stress was 0.110 t ha−1 yr−1 and 0.135 t ha−1 yr−1, respectively, for MYS-1 and MYS-2. The gain was less under waterlogging stress, where MYS-1 showed 0.038 t ha−1 yr−1 and MYS-2 reached 0.113 t ha−1 yr−1. Genomic selection for drought and waterlogging tolerance resulted in no yield penalty under optimal moisture conditions. The genetic diversity of the two populations did not change significantly after two cycles of GS, suggesting that RC-GS can be an effective breeding strategy to achieve high genetic gains without losing genetic diversity.