Hybrid wheat: quantitative genetic parameters and consequences for the design of breeding programs

Theor Appl Genet. 2013 Nov;126(11):2791-801. doi: 10.1007/s00122-013-2172-z. Epub 2013 Aug 4.


Commercial heterosis for grain yield is present in hybrid wheat but long-term competiveness of hybrid versus line breeding depends on the development of heterotic groups to improve hybrid prediction. Detailed knowledge of the amount of heterosis and quantitative genetic parameters are of paramount importance to assess the potential of hybrid breeding. Our objectives were to (1) examine the extent of midparent, better-parent and commercial heterosis in a vast population of 1,604 wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) hybrids and their parental elite inbred lines and (2) discuss the consequences of relevant quantitative parameters for the design of hybrid wheat breeding programs. Fifteen male lines were crossed in a factorial mating design with 120 female lines, resulting in 1,604 of the 1,800 potential single-cross hybrid combinations. The hybrids, their parents, and ten commercial wheat varieties were evaluated in multi-location field experiments for grain yield, plant height, heading time and susceptibility to frost, lodging, septoria tritici blotch, yellow rust, leaf rust, and powdery mildew at up to five locations. We observed that hybrids were superior to the mean of their parents for grain yield (10.7 %) and susceptibility to frost (-7.2 %), leaf rust (-8.4 %) and septoria tritici blotch (-9.3 %). Moreover, 69 hybrids significantly (P < 0.05) outyielded the best commercial inbred line variety underlining the potential of hybrid wheat breeding. The estimated quantitative genetic parameters suggest that the establishment of reciprocal recurrent selection programs is pivotal for a successful long-term hybrid wheat breeding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breeding / methods*
  • Disease Resistance / genetics
  • Hybrid Vigor / genetics
  • Hybridization, Genetic*
  • Inheritance Patterns / genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Diseases / genetics
  • Quantitative Trait, Heritable
  • Seeds / genetics
  • Seeds / growth & development
  • Triticum / genetics*