Genetic Variation for Maize Epicuticular Wax Response to Drought Stress at Flowering

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2012
Authors:Meeks, M, Murray, SC, Hague, S, Hays, D, Ibrahim, AMH
Journal:Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science
Date Published:2012
ISBN Number:1439-037X
Keywords:Drought, epicuticular wax, maize

Drought stress is thought to promote epicuticular wax accumulation on maize leaves, which reduces plant water loss. We evaluated 62 maize inbred lines and their hybrid testcross progeny for epicuticular wax accumulation on flag leaves at flowering under full and limited irrigation regimes. Extracted wax was measured as a percentage of wax weight to leaf weight (WLW) and leaf area (WLA). Eleven genotypes had above average WLW as both inbred lines and hybrid testcrosses. Thirteen genotypes had above average WLA as either inbred lines or hybrid testcrosses. The drought treatment did not significantly alter WLW or WLA. Heritability of WLW was 0.17 (inbred lines) and 0.58 (hybrid testcrosses). Heritability of WLA was 0.41 (inbred lines) and 0.59 (hybrid testcrosses), suggesting it is a better trait than WLW for epicuticular wax screening. Correlations (r) between inbred lines and their testcross progeny were 0.44 and 0.18, for WLW and WLA, respectively. Heritability of grain weight per ear and plot yield was highest in hybrid testcrosses, with no correlation between inbred and hybrid germplasm. It is not warranted to evaluate epicuticular wax accumulation as the sole drought tolerance mechanism. However, it may be a good secondary trait to observe in relation to grain yield production in hybrids tested under water-limiting conditions.

Short Title:Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science
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