Heritabilities of morphological and agronomic traits in western wheatgrass
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CitationRay, I. M., & Harms, J. P. (1994). Heritabilities of morphological and agronomic traits in western wheatgrass. Journal of Range Management, 47(1), 60-63.
PublisherSociety for Range Management
JournalJournal of Range Management
AbstractLimited research has been directed towards characterizing the phenotypic and genotypic variability of different traits in North American plant species. This study was conducted to estimate the degree of genetic control, i.e., the heritability (h2), of several agronomic and morphological traits of ND-WWG931 western wheatgrass [Pascopyrum smithii, (Rydb.) Love] and to provide insight into appropriate sample sizes needed to estimate genetic parameters. Thirty randomly selected half-sib families of ND-WWG931 western wheatgrass were evaluated over 2 years and 2 locations in seeded single-row plots. Heritabilities were determined for the following traits based on the progeny means of the 30 families: dry matter yield, tiller height, spikelets per spike, vigor, spike density, spike pubescence, and spikelet color. Spike density, dry matter yield, and vigor had relatively high heritabilities (h2 = 79, 72, and 67%, respectively) and were estimated with the greatest precision (90% confidence interval width range: 33 to 64% as large as the point estimate). Spike pubescence, spikelets per spike, tiller height, and spikelet color demonstrated moderate to low heritabilities (h2 = 55, 49, 33, and 0% respectively) and were estimated with the least precision as demonstrated by relatively wide confidence limits. The genetic variance components for spike density, forage yield, vigor, and spike pubescence exceeded twice their standard errors indicating that selection for these traits should be effective in ND-WWG931. Heritability estimates of fresh forage yield were essentially the same, i.e., 61.9 and 61.5%, when based on either 30 or 270 half-sib families, respectively, indicating that a sample size of 30 families was adequate to provide reliable estimates of genetic variance in ND-WWG931. These data provide general insight into the population genetics of a North American plant species and demonstrate an approach to determine the genetic variability within plant materials that are being used for rangeland revegetation.