Improving resistance to the European corn borer: a comprehensive study in elite maize using QTL mapping and genome-wide prediction
The European corn borer (ECB) has become a serious pest for maize cultivation in Central and Western Europe. This study was conducted to evaluate resistance against ECB in a cross section of the European maize germplasm. A total of 115 flint and dent inbreds were evaluated for resistance under protected and artificial infestation conditions at two German sites in 1993. Resistance to ECB was assessed by damage rating before harvest, tunnel length in dissected stalks, and relative yield under infestation compared to protected control plots. Means for damage rating of stalks were significantly higher in flint lines than in dent lines. Artificial infestation reduced grain yield by 31% in flint lines and 20% in dent lines. Significant genotypic variances among lines and high genetic ratios (GR) were found in both flint and dent lines for all agronomic and ECB resistance traits. Exceptions were relative yield of stover in both germplasm groups and tunnel length in flint lines. Phenotypic correlations between agronomic and resistance traits were moderate to low. Damage rating was negatively correlated with days to silking and dry matter yield of stover in both germplasm groups. In vitro digestibility of stover was not associated with ECB resistance. Correlations of relative grain yield with tunnel length below the ear and damage rating were significantly negative, even though their magnitude was low. Our results indicate substantial genetic variation among European inbred lines for resistance to the univoltine ECB. Among all resistance traits measured, damage rating of stalks is best suited for assessment of ECB resistance in breeding programs because of its easy recording and high genetic ratio.