Aflatoxin, a potent carcinogen, is produced by the fungus Aspergillus flavus Link: Fr. Drought, high temperatures, and insect damage contribute to increased levels of aflatoxin contamination in corn, Zea mays L. Plant resistance is widely considered a desirable method of reducing aflatoxin contamination. Germplasm lines with aflatoxin resistance have been developed. This investigation was undertaken to determine whether crosses among these lines exhibited resistance to southwestern corn borer, Diatraea grandiosella Dyar, and to assess the effects of southwestern corn borer feeding on aflatoxin accumulation. Differences in ear damage among southwestern corn borer infested hybrids were significant. Estimates of general combining ability effects indicated that the lines Mp80:04, Mp420, and Mp488 contributed to reduced ear damage, and SC213 and T165 contributed to greater damage when used in hybrids. Mean aflatoxin levels were 254 ng/g for hybrids infested with southwestern corn borer larvae and 164 ng/g for noninfested hybrids in 2000 when environmental conditions were conducive to aflatoxin production. In contrast, the overall mean aflatoxin level for southwestern corn borer infested hybrids was only 5 ng/g in 1999 when environmental conditions did not favor aflatoxin accumulation. Crosses that included lines selected for aflatoxin resistance as parents (Mp80:04 and Mp313E) exhibited lower levels of aflatoxin contamination both with and without southwestern corn borer infestation in 2000. Only the experimental line Mp80:04 contributed significantly to both reduced southwestern corn borer damage and reduced aflatoxin contamination.
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Vol. 95 • No. 5