Maize Genetics and Breeding



The present group of “Genetics and Improvement of Maize” began in 1974. Already previously, since its foundation in 1921, the Biological Mission of Galicia had dedicated itself to the genetic improvement of corn by the hand of Cruz Gallástegui, But from 1960 the line disappeared from the center, which went to research in the fields of porcine genetics and agricultural chemistry. All the genetic material of maize that was at that time, for one cause or another, was lost (except for seven pure lines) so when Amando Ordás joined the center in 1974 had to start practically from scratch, with a different approach to that followed until 1960. Three lines of research were started:

    1. Formation of a germplasm bank
  1. Development of inbreds and hybrids adapted to Galicia
  2. Establishment of long-term selection programs

The first thing that was done was the collection of native Galician varieties, which at that time were disappearing at a high speed, being replaced their cultivation with that of hybrids generally based on germplasm of the Corn Belt. The collection of Galician varieties was completed with the Spanish races of Prof. Sánchez-Monge and old Spanish varieties preserved in the Vavilov Institute of St. Petersburg. The study of these populations was undertaken by conducting doctoral theses and the results have been published in various journals (see list of publications of the group).

From the populations, new inbred lines of high combining ability and adapted to the agroecological conditions of Galicia were developed. Several hybrids were obtained and one of them (DMB 15-70) was extensively cultivated in Galicia in the 1980s. This line of research was closed by dedicating the group to more basic research work since the 1990s.

A third line of research was the beginning of two long-term selection programs: mass selection for earliness and an integrated system. The first program tries to improve two exotic populations to adapt them to the Galician conditions; the second program is aimed at the development and exploitation of a new heterotic pattern based on Spanish germplasm. These programs continue today.

Since the 1990s, with the addition of new researchers to the group, new lines of research have been added, which are still in force today: Improvement of resistance to borers, sweet corn, resistance to contamination of the grain with fumonisins, study of the senescence, resistance to abiotic stresses, the role of the cellular wall as mechanism of defense to stress, etc. A detailed list of the lines and their description can be seen in the “Objectives” tab.