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The analysis of adaptation in a plant-breeding programme

KW Finlay and GN Wilkinson

Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 14(6) 742 - 754
Published: 1963


The adaptation of barley varieties was studied by the use of grain yields of a randomly chosen group of 277 varieties from a world collection, grown in replicated trials for several seasons at three sites in South Australia. For each variety a linear regression of yield on the mean yield of all varieties for each site and season was computed to measure variety adaptation. In these calculations the basic yields were measured on a logarithmic scale, as it was found that a high degree of linearity was thereby induced. The mean yield of all varieties for each site and season provided a quantitative grading of the environments; and from the analysis described, varieties specifically adapted to good or poor seasons and those showing general adaptability may be identified.

The study of the adaptation of the whole population of varieties was facilitated by the use of a two-dimensional plot (scatter diagram), with mean yield and regression coefficient as coordinates for each variety. Though wide variation was evident in both mean yield and sensitivity to environment as characterized by the regression coefficient, the variation in sensitivity was proportionately less among varieties with higher mean yield, and the varieties with highest mean yield exhibited, within very narrow limits (regression coefficients close to 0.8), a similar degree of adaptation to all environments over the wide range, especially of seasonal conditions, typical of the South Australian cereal belt.

Varieties from particular geographic regions of the world showed a similarity in type of adaptation, which provides a useful basis for plant introduction.

Phenotypic stability and physiological and morphological characteristics of groups of varieties with specific or general adaptability are discussed in relation to plant introduction and breeding.

© CSIRO 1963

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