Germplasm Enhancement of Maize

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TAC Meeting 1994
Cooperator's Meeting
Development of BC
Personnel Change
TSG Meeting
TSG Members
Priority of Research
Protocol Changes
3-Way BC
TSG Meeting (MO)
1995 Field Day
TSG Meeting (IA)
Winter Nursery
Breeding Croses
Support Scientist

GEM - 1995 Annual Report

1994 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) Meeting, Chicago, IL

The TAC recognized the important contributions of Bill Kuhn, Jim Parks and Dave Harper in lobbying and encouraged cooperators to write thank you letters to key people in Congress. Charles Murphy, USDA-ARS National Program Staff member for grain crops, discussed allocation of the $500,000 appropriated by Congress. After 10% ($50,000) overhead, $300,000 would be added to Linda Pollak's CRIS to support GEM coordination, data management and analysis, evaluation of value-added traits, management and release of enhanced germplasm, and participation as a breeding site.$150,000 would be added to Marty Carson's CRIS (Raleigh, NC) for support of coordinating development of enhanced materials for the South, and to serve as a stepping stone for adapting tropical material to the Midwest. Three USDA-ARS support scientists would be hired to work on GEM, one for germplasm enhancement and breeding in NC, one for value-added trait analyses in IA, and one for data management and analysis in IA. Other matters discussed were an early screening of LAMP populations using smaller sample size, choice of tester for evaluating breeding crosses, value-added trait evaluations with ISU cooperators, and membership (diversity, rollover) on the TAC.


1994 Cooperator's Meeting, Chicago, IL

Reports were given by:

  • David Harper on lobbying effort, funding appropriated, committee rollover ideas.

  • Wilfredo Salhuana on the past year's work.

  • Wilfredo Salhuana and Steve Eberhart on LAMP Stage 4 catalog and CD-ROM.

  • Mohammed Ahmed on United Agriseed's protein/oil screening of temperate LAMP materials.

  • Tom Hoegemeyer on Hoegemeyer Hybrid's CLN screening of temperate LAMP materials.

  • Linda Pollak on the 1994 annual report.

Many of the items discussed at the TAC meeting were presented for cooperator's comments. Major points made by cooperators included:

  • Tester used to evaluate breeding crosses (one common or company specific) would not make much difference at this level of testing.

  • Need comments on material and information on special attributes from all cooperators.

  • Include elite tropical inbreds in the next round of GEM.

  • A three-year term on the TAC and more diverse and more public cooperator members were desirable, and a processor or corn user member should be a full member not observer.

Dirk Benson was added as an industry member of the TAC with expertise in breeding and entomology. Marty Carson was added as a USDA-ARS ex-oficio member of the TAC representing the North Carolina GEM satellite location and with field pathologist expertise, unless he delegates membership to the support scientist to be hired.

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Development of Breeding Crosses with Private Inbreds

The initial accessions and tropical hybrids of GEM (400k/accession, 200k/tropical hybrid) were sent to private cooperators for crossing to private inbred lines in the 1994-95 winter nursery. Each private cooperator was assigned to make at least four crosses. No direction was given to cooperators on specific attributes of the inbred line other than the heterotic pattern to use (Stiff Stalk of non-Stiff Stalk) and that it should be a commercial line.


Support Scientist for Evaluating Value-Added Traits

In February, Susan Duvick was hired as a USDA transfer to fill this position. She had experience evaluating starch and oil quality while a research associate for the Center for Crops Utilization Research at Iowa State University, and experience evaluating protein quality while a technician for the USDA-ARS.


1995 Technical Steering Group (TSG) Meeting, Champaign, IL

Composition and Membership of TSG:

The name of TAC was changed to Technical Steering Group, because Congress decided that only they could set up Advisory Committees for government work. Blaine Johnson resigned as a University member of the TSG. TSG membership was determined to be 9-11 members. Composition can float, but an industry minimum of five was set. Ideally, these members would be diverse among large, regional, medium national, and foundation seed companies. USDA-ARS members are limited to two (GEM coordinator and North Carolina representative), and are ex-oficio due to conflict of interest. One commodity group or processor member and two university members should be added. Rollover dates were assigned to all members, with terms running from January 1 through December 31.


1995 TSG Committee Membership

Member Group Expertise Term Exp. Date
Linda Pollak USDA-ARS Coordinator, Exotics Permanent ex-oficio
Marty Carson USDA-ARS Project Leader, Pathology Permanent ex-oficio
Wilfredo Salhuana Industry Chair, Breeding Exotics 1998
Randy Holley Industry Breeding Exotics 1997
Kevin Montgomery Industry Breeding 1997
Jim Parks Industry Breeding, ASTA 1996
Dirk Benson Industry Breeding, Entomology, Specialty 1998
Dave Harper Industry Breeding, Lobbying 1998
Doug Tiffany Industry Breeding, Newsletter 1996

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Priorities for screening pests/diseases (1=high, 2=medium, 3=low priority)

  Name Priority   Name Priority
Insects Root Worm 1 Viruses Corn Lethal Necrosis 3
  European Corn Borer 2nd Brood 1   SE Complex (MDMV, MDCV) 3
  Spider Mites 2 Stalk Rots Anthracnose 1
  European Corn Borer 1st Brood 3   Fusarium/Gib. 2
  Fall Armyworm 3   Diplodia 3
  Southwestern Corn Borer 3   Charcoal 3
  Corn Ear Worm 3 Ear Rots Aspergillus 1
  Bill Bugs 3   Fusarium 1
  Black Cut Worm 3   Gib. 2
  Chinch Bug 3   Diplodia 3
  Thrips 3      
  Leaf Hoppers 3      
Diseases-Leaf Gray Leaf Spot 1      
  Southern Rust 2      
  Eye Spot 2      
  Southern Leaf Blight 2      
  Northern Leaf Blight 3      
  Common Rust 3      
  Carbonum 3      
  Anthracnose 3      
  Stewart's Wilt 3      
  Goss's Wilt 3      

Protocol Changes:

  • For making 3-way crosses, population size was reduced from 400k to 200k.This created space for sending each breeding cross to two companies for making 3-ways.

  • North Carolina (represented by Major Goodman as a guest) reported that in 1995 they will work (self and testcross with B73/A632 and Mo17/Oh43e) tropicals at the 50% level and yield test the 50% tropicals. 

  • Two companies will make SS testcrosses of the nSS breeding crosses, and two will make nSS testcrosses of the SS breeding crosses in 1995-96 winter nursery.

  • Testcross trials in 1996 will include 2 common check hybrids across all locations in the South, and 2 in the Corn Belt for purposes of comparison and adjustment. The top 20% breeding crosses need to be selected (1-2 populations handled per cooperator in developing S3 lines.

Other items discussed included: protocol for selecting public cooperator's projects for funding by specific cooperative agreements, update on Dave Harper's lobbying of both houses of Congress's Ag. Appropriations Committees on February 9-10, status of breeding crosses, and need for cold storage at both GEM locations.

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Public GEM Cooperators Supported by Specific Cooperative Agreements

 or USDA-ARS transfers in 1995

Materials evaluated
Margaret Smith
Cornell University
temperate breeding crosses
resistant to anthracnose stalk rot
John Dudley & Donald White
University of Illinois
temperate breeding crosses
resistance to 5 leaf blights and rind puncture resistance
Charlie Martinson
Iowa State University
temperate breeding crosses
produce innoculum for GEM evaluations at Ames
John Ayers & Melvin Johnson
Penn State University
temperate accessions
resistance to gray leaf spot
James Coors
University of Wisconsin
temperate accessions and breeding crosses
evaluation of silage potential, demo field, field day
Manjit Kang
University of Louisiana
tropical and temperate breeding crosses
resistance to Aspergillus flavus and maize weevil
Richard Pratt
Ohio State University
temperate breeding crosses
physical and compositional grain quality
Paul Williams, Frank Davis
USDA-ARS, Mississippi
tropical and temperate accessions
resistance to fall armyworm and southwestern corn borer
Neil Widstrom
USDA-ARS, Georgia
tropical and temperate accessions
resistance to Aspergillus sp.. infection and aflatoxin production
Billy Wiseman
USDA-ARS, Georgia
tropical and temperate accessions
resistance to corn earworm and fall armyworm
Larry Johnson
Iowa State University
tropical and temperate accessions, subset of breeding crosses
variation in proximate composition, grain physical properties, wet milling properties, and starch functionality
Dean Barry
USDA-ARS, Missouri
tropical and temperate accessions
resistance to first and second brood European corn borer
Jon Tollefson
Iowa State University


tropical and temperate accessions
resistance to corn rootworm

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Development of 3-way Breeding Crosses with Private Inbreds

Private cooperators returned exotic x private inbred breeding crosses to Linda Pollak from winter nurseries in the form of balanced bulks for future breeding and for making 3-way crosses, and leftover bulks for other evaluations (Table 1).Balanced samples (200k) of the breeding crosses were sent to two different companies for making 3-way SS or nSS breeding crosses in summer nurseries or day-neutral locations. Each private cooperator was assigned at least eight crosses. New private cooperators were assigned four accessions (400k each) to make breeding crosses. Balanced breeding bulks were kept in cold storage for further use. Due to limited cold storage space, leftover bulks were stored at the Plant Introduction seed storage in Ames.


1995 TSG Meeting, St. Louis, MO

Protocol changes:

North Carolina's method for following the 50% breeding cross protocol: Self F1 50-200 ears, bulk equal numbers, self and get 1000 plants, grow ear-to-row etc. These modifications are necessary because of environmental conditions unique to the South (e.g.. soil variability).

GEM Fast-Track Program

Randy Holley devised a protocol to develop a quick product using small sample sizes, then best crosses can be re-sampled. This protocol will be followed by the USDA-ARS locations in North Carolina and Iowa and a few companies for the 75% breeding crosses. Development of early good lines will benefit GEM's publicity and lobbying efforts.

Winter 1 Plant 100k per breeding cross. Harvest 50 S1's and shell individual ears.

Summer 1 Plant 50 S1 rows per cross with intermittent reference inbred between each cross. Try to follow the planting and pollination practices of local breeders. This may include high density planting with disease inoculations and at least three self pollinations per row. Take notes on strengths and weaknesses of entries by population to aid in selection of populations for further advancement. Harvest at least one ear from each row that meets standard agronomic selection criteria. This will probably average 5 ears/cross.

Winter 2 The number of breeding crosses under consideration should be cut by at least 70% via preliminary review of topcross yield trials (evaluated in 1996 according to the original protocol), cross per se observation in nurseries, and S1 derivative performance in nurseries. Less than 10 S2s from each selected population should be crosses onto two or three testers providing ~500k of each entry for yield trials the following summer.

Summer 2 Yield trials of selected S2 topcrosses will be run at six locations, one replication. From this point on entries will follow standard GEM protocol. Yield data collected will be used to prioritize yield trials of various breeding materials in the pipeline and better identify testers for larger numbers of S2s from the selected populations.

Other major items discussed:

  • Disease and insect priorities-priorities remained the same but stressed susceptibility of tropical material to Stewart's and Gosses Wilt and potential future need for screening.

  • Linda Pollak's and Marty Carson's budgets especially needs for planters and combines.

  • Forms and formats for reports and data--these will be developed further.

  • Dollars spent in in-kind support, lobbying, and brochure/logo.

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1995 Field Days

Ames, IA. The field day was held on September 14 (3-5 pm) in association with Iowa State University's Agronomy Day (9-3pm).Many of the 3000 attendees of Agronomy Day visited the GEM field and tent during the day on guided tours, increasing exposure of GEM to farmers and the general public. A brochure was developed to give general information about GEM. Available for viewing in the field were all private line breeding crosses, comparisons of private and public line breeding crosses, and a demonstration of breeding progress in Corn Belt and exotic corn. Other displays and talks included:

  • Susan Duvick--GEM oil and starch quality evaluations

  • Suvrat Singh (graduate student working with Larry Johnson)--small-scale wet milling demonstration

  • Jon Tollefson--corn rootworm evaluations

  • King-Yee Ng (graduate student working with Pam White)--starch quality in GEM su2 crosses

Madison, WI hosted by Jim Coors. The field day was held on September 19, 1995 and focused on temperate germplasm and associated private line breeding crosses that were under evaluation for silage nutritive value. It also included a demonstration of silage germplasm and summaries of silage studies conducted over the past four years by researchers at the University of Wisconsin. Susan Duvick displayed poster demonstrations and discussed laboratory value-added evaluations. Both field days were very successful.


1995 TSG Meeting, Ames, IA

Main topics discussed included:

  • Linda Pollak's and Marty Carson's budgets for 1996

  • Progress of research conducted by public cooperators

  • Standard checks for experiments

  • Inbred release policies

  • Making, maintaining and utilizing contacts with farm publications to promote GEM

  • Revisions of form and program of annual report for public cooperators and TSG--a decision was made to write a program in Foxpro for Windows for distribution to cooperators.


1995-96 Winter Nursery Plans

Two companies (Golden Harvest and Pioneer) are making nSS testcrosses with all available SS breeding crosses, and two companies (Cargill and Holdens) are making SS testcrosses with nSS breeding crosses. Three companies and the USDA-ARS locations in Ames and Raleigh are doing fast-track breeding. Thirteen companies are remaking 2-way or 3-way breeding crosses that failed. Two companies have no winter nurseries.

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Status of GEM Breeding Crosses

The following table gives numbers of GEM breeding crosses as of December 1995.All crosses were sent to appropriate companies for making testcrosses. Most of these crosses have adequate seed supplies for pest and quality evaluations and for distribution to cooperators. Some have only enough seed supply for making testcrosses and for the GEM protocol breeding procedure.


GEM Breeding Cross Totals

  Stiff Stalk  Non-Stiff Stalk
  50% Exotics 25% Exotics Total SS 50% Exotics 25% Exotics Total nSS
Temperate 20 43 63 16 37 53
Tropical 18 35 53 20 38 58
Total 38 78 116 36 75 111


Support Scientist for Data Management and Analysis

Eric Wellin will start at this position on December 11, 1995.He had experience in computer maintenance, networking, Foxpro programming, data management and analysis, and corn breeding as an assistant breeder at Cargill Hybrid Seeds.


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We are grateful to our Cooperators for their support!


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