The Effect of Heterosis on Primary Phenotypic Traits and its Direct and Indirect Impact on Crop Yield
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The goal of the proposed research is to improve the process of developing superior performing plant phenotypes and increase understanding of how crops respond to abiotic and biotic stresses. Most of the research discussed herein is applicable to a very wide range of cropping systems.Currently, most plant breeders use a mixture of intuition and science to develop improved cultivars. Each breeder creates and eliminates thousands of lines every year, keeping those lines or hybrids that appear to offer a significant yield increase while matching the breeder's view of what connotes an optimal plant ideotype, and discarding those that do not. Selection for further evaluation or elimination is based on an extremely limited amount of data during the early stages of selection. A line can be misclassified as superior or inferior yielding due to non-uniform variation in planting depth, availability soil-nutrients, and biotic stresses across the research plots. It is only during the later stages of selection that plot size becomes sufficiently large to begin to minimize the likelihood of misclassification. This problem highlights the value of being able to accurately estimate growth, development, and yield potential based on early season measurements of plant traits that are stable across a wide range of conditions.Our research has led to the development of a physiologically based rice crop simulation model to define the "best" combination of plant traits to achieve increased grain yield for a given set of environmental conditions. Both field data and simulation results suggest rice yield can be increased by selecting genotypes having traits that increase early season vegetative growth..........