Genomic prediction in multi-environment trials in maize using statistical and machine learning methods.

Barreto CAV, das Graças Dias KO, de Sousa IC, Azevedo CF, Nascimento ACC, Guimarães LJM, Guimarães CT, Pastina MM, Nascimento M

Published: 12 January 2024 in Scientific reports
Keywords: No keywords in Pubmed
Pubmed ID: 38212638
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-024-51792-3

In the context of multi-environment trials (MET), genomic prediction is proposed as a tool that allows the prediction of the phenotype of single cross hybrids that were not tested in field trials. This approach saves time and costs compared to traditional breeding methods. Thus, this study aimed to evaluate the genomic prediction of single cross maize hybrids not tested in MET, grain yield and female flowering time. We also aimed to propose an application of machine learning methodologies in MET in the prediction of hybrids and compare their performance with Genomic best linear unbiased prediction (GBLUP) with non-additive effects. Our results highlight that both methodologies are efficient and can be used in maize breeding programs to accurately predict the performance of hybrids in specific environments. The best methodology is case-dependent, specifically, to explore the potential of GBLUP, it is important to perform accurate modeling of the variance components to optimize the prediction of new hybrids. On the other hand, machine learning methodologies can capture non-additive effects without making any assumptions at the outset of the model. Overall, predicting the performance of new hybrids that were not evaluated in any field trials was more challenging than predicting hybrids in sparse test designs.