Nitrogen use efficiency and the genetic variation of maize expired plant variety protection germplasm

Adriano T. Mastrodomenico, C. Cole Hendrix, Frederick E. Below

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) in maize (Zea mays L.) is an important trait to optimize yield with minimal input of nitrogen (N) fertilizer. Expired Plant Variety Protection (ex-PVP) Act-certified germplasm may be an important genetic resource for public breeding sectors. The objectives of this research were to evaluate the genetic variation of N-use traits and to characterize maize ex-PVP inbreds that are adapted to the U.S. Corn Belt for NUE performance. Eighty-nine ex-PVP inbreds (36 stiff stalk synthetic (SSS), and 53 non-stiff stalk synthetic (NSSS)) were genotyped using 26,769 single-nucleotide polymorphisms, then 263 single-cross maize hybrids derived from these inbreds were grown in eight environments from 2011 to 2015 at two N fertilizer rates (0 and 252 kg N ha–1) and three replications. Genetic utilization of inherent soil nitrogen and the yield response to N fertilizer were stable across environments and were highly correlated with yield under low and high N conditions, respectively. Cluster analysis identified inbreds with desirable NUE performance. However, only one inbred (PHK56) was ranked in the top 10% for yield under both N-stress and high N conditions. Broad-sense heritability across 12 different N-use traits varied from 0.11 to 0.77, but was not associated with breeding value accuracy. Nitrogen-stress tolerance was negatively correlated with the yield increase from N fertilizer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3
JournalAgriculture (Switzerland)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • Expired plant variety protection (ex-PVP)
  • Maize
  • Nitrogen stress
  • Nitrogen use efficiency (NUE)
  • U.S. corn belt germplasm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science

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