Reciprocal testcross design for genome-wide prediction of maize single-cross performance

Patrick K. Sweet, Rex Bernardo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Key message: A reciprocal testcross design increases the relatedness among single crosses and testcrosses, thereby increasing the effectiveness of genome-wide prediction in maize. Abstract: A reciprocal testcross design uses parental inbreds in an opposite heterotic group as testers in maize (Zea mays L.) inbred development. In particular, doubled haploids from the A × B cross are testcrossed with inbreds Y and Z, and doubled haploids from Y × Z are testcrossed with inbreds A and B. Our objective was to determine if a reciprocal testcross design is superior to a traditional, non-reciprocal testcross design. A total of 700 Iowa Stiff Stalk Synthetic (BSSS) doubled haploids and 231 non-BSSS doubled haploids were developed from 10 breeding populations and had data on 11,032 single nucleotide polymorphism markers. Each doubled haploid was testcrossed to one to five testers from the opposite heterotic group, and the resulting 1642 testcrosses were evaluated in multilocation yield trials in 2019. Divergent selection for yield/moisture, on the basis of genome-wide predictions according to a reciprocal testcross design, led to significant responses (in 2020) in all 10 populations for yield/moisture and moisture and in three populations for yield. Predictive ability for yield/moisture and moisture was 0.11 to 0.26 higher with a reciprocal testcross design than with a testcross design. This higher predictive ability was attributed to a stronger relatedness between the training and test populations. No significant difference in predictive ability was found for yield, for which predictive ability was lower. Differences among genetic models that included and excluded specific combining ability were small. Overall, the empirical results supported the usefulness of a reciprocal testcross design in maize breeding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number184
JournalTheoretical and Applied Genetics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Syngenta organization and especially colleagues Travis Beckett, Jason Cromley, and Russel Pinnisch who contributed time, resources, and knowledge to this research effort. We also thank Josh Sleper who envisioned the reciprocal testcross design and planned the first-year testcrosses.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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