In the United States, insecticide is used extensively in the production of sweet corn due to consumer demand for zero damage to ears and to a sweet corn genetic base with little or no resistance to ear-feeding insects. Growers in the southern United States depend on scheduled pesticide applications to control ear-feeding insects. In a study of quantitative genetic control over silk maysin, AM-maysin (apimaysin and methoxymaysin), and chlorogenic acid contents in an F2 population derived from GE37 (dent corn, P1A1) and 565 (sh2 sweet corn, p1a1), we demonstrate that the P1 allele from field corn, which was selected against in the development of sweet corn, has a strong epistatic interaction with the a1 allele in sh2 sweet corn. We detected that the p1 gene has significant effects (P < 0.0001) not only on silk maysin concentrations but also on AM-maysin, and chlorogenic acid concentrations. The a1 gene also has significant (P < 0.0005) effects on these silk antibiotic chemicals. Successful selection from the fourth and fifth selfed backcrosses for high-maysin individuals of sweet corn homozygous for the recessive a1 allele (tightly linked to sh2) and the dominant P1 allele has been demonstrated. These selected lines have much higher (2 to 3 times) concentrations of silk maysin and other chemicals (AM-maysin and chlorogenic acid) than the donor parent GE37 and could enhance sweet corn resistance to corn earworm and reduce the number of applications of insecticide required to produce sweet corn.
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Vol. 97 • No. 6