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Farmer's seed management practices open up new base populations for pearl millet breeding in a semi-arid zone of India

Vom Brocke K., Presterl T., Christinck A., Weltzien E., Geiger H.H.. 2002. Plant Breeding, 121 : p. 36-42.

DOI: 10.1046/j.1439-0523.2002.00657.x

Farmers in western Rajasthan (north-west India) produce and maintain their landrace populations of pearl millet through their own distinct seed management practices. The objective of this study was to characterize morphological and agronomic variability of different traits between and within three farmers' populations using quantitative-genetic parameters. Populations examined were a typical landrace and two modified landraces, which were generated through farmer introgression of modem varieties with different levels of subsequent selection. From these three populations. 100 random full-sib progenies were evaluated in field trials at two locations in western Rajasthan over two years. Significant genetic variation existed within the three populations. Estimates of heritability were moderate to high for all observed traits. Predicted selection response for grain yield across environments was 1.6% for the typical landrace and 2.2% for both the modified landraces. Results suggest that the introgression of modern varieties into landraces had increased the genetic diversity. Therefore, farmers' current breeding activities could open up new resources for plant breeding programmes aiming at plant improvement for the semiarid zones of India.
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