Mark Cooper, Dupont Fellow, Research Director, Trait Characterization and Development, Pioneer Hi-Bred, International, Inc.
Breeding drought tolerant maize for the U.S. Corn Belt: Whole Genome Prediction
A breeding strategy was implemented to develop maize hybrids with improved levels of drought tolerance suitable for the U.S. corn-belt. Multiple technologies were integrated into the breeding program cycle, including the use of drought managed environments combined with specialized high-throughput field phenotyping and whole genome prediction (WGP) methodology. An outcome of these breeding programs was the 2011 launch of the AQUAmax class of hybrids. Since the initial launch the AQUAmax class of drought tolerant maize hybrids has been expanded and these hybrids are now widely adopted across the U.S. corn-belt. This drought breeding effort has provided an operational foundation for evaluating extensions of the current methodologies to further accelerate genetic gain for stress tolerance. Results will be presented from some recent investigations into the possibility to enhance the utility of WGP by integrating crop growth models with whole genome prediction (CGM-WGP) through an application of approximate Bayesian computation.