Methionine is an essential amino acid that is limiting in maize- (Zea mays L.) based diets. The objective of this work was to determine whether we could alter grain methionine concentration in random-mated maize populations by mass selection for methionine concentration using a microbial assay. In one study, we developed two populations by selecting for high or low methionine concentration (HM or LM, respectively) for three generations starting from the random-mated population BS11. Grain from these populations was used to formulate diets for a feeding trial in which 15 rats were fed HM grain and 15 rats were fed LM grain. Rats on the HM diet had a 0.018 higher feed efficiency (g gain/g feed) than rats on the LM diet. In a second study, we performed three cycles of selection for high or low methionine concentration starting with two random-mated populations, BS11 and BS31. We evaluated each cycle of selection in a field trial with two replications in each of two years. Methionine concentration was significantly correlated with the cycle of selection, changing on average 0.004 g methionine/100 g grain per cycle. Kernel mass, %N, oil, protein, starch, tryptophan, and lysine concentration did not exhibit significant correlations with cycle of selection. We conclude that recurrent selection for grain methionine concentration using a microbial assay is an effective method to alter methionine content.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/paul-scott/9/