Assessing genotype-by-environment interactions in aspergillus ear rot and pre-harvest aflatoxin accumulation in maize inbred lines

Okoth, Sheila ; Rose, Lindy J. ; Ouko, Abigael ; Netshifhefhe, Nakisani E. I. ; Sila, Henry ; Viljoen, Altus (2017)

CITATION: Okoth, S., et al. 2017. Assessing genotype-by-environment interactions in aspergillus ear rot and pre-harvest aflatoxin accumulation in maize inbred lines. Agronomy, 7(4):86, doi:10.3390/agronomy7040086.

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Article

Aspergillus flavus, causal agent of the Aspergillus ear rot (AER) of maize, also produces aflatoxins that cause aflatoxicosis in humans and livestock. Ten maize inbred lines were evaluated in replicated trials in two aflatoxicosis outbreak hot spots in Kenya and in three maize-growing areas in South Africa for resistance to AER, A. flavus colonization, and pre-harvest aflatoxin accumulation during the 2012/13 growing season. AER severity was measured by visual assessment, while A. flavus colonization and aflatoxin content were quantified by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry, respectively. Genotype by environment interaction (GEI) was determined using analysis of variance (ANOVA), additive main effects and multiplicative models (AMMI), and genotype plus by environment (GGE) biplot analyses. Stability of genotypes was evaluated using AMMI analysis. AER severity and fungal colonization significantly (p < 0.001) varied between genotypes. GEI influenced the severity of AER symptoms and aflatoxin accumulation significantly (p < 0.001), while fungal colonization was not affected. The inbred lines response was consistent for this trait in the test environments and was thus considered a desirable measure to indicate maize lines with a high risk of aflatoxin accumulation. CML495, CKL05019, LaPosta, and MIRTC5 were the least diseased lines, with the lowest aflatoxin contamination and a stable phenotypic response across the environments. Kiboko was determined as the ideal representative test environment, with discriminative ability of the genotypes for selection of the desired stable responses of the three traits.

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