Symbiotic nitrogen fixation in peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.) may be improved by genetically manipulating the host plant. This requires an understanding of the inheritance of the traits involved in nitrogen fixation. The objectives of this study were to determine the inheritance of several N2 fixation-related traits for two peanut crosses based on Mather and Jink's fixation-related traits for two peanut crosses based on Mather and Jink's additive-dominance model, and to determine if epistasis was important in the inheritance of these traits. A generation means analysis usingparents, reciprocal F1s and F2s, and two back-cross generations was conducted for both crosses. Plants of different generations were grown in modified Leonard jars in the greenhouse for about 60 days at which time nodule number and dry weight, shoot dry weight, nitrogenase activity, and specific activity were measured. Means of the traits for the generations from both crosses (Robut 33-1 x NC 4 and Robut 33-1 x Argentine) showed significant differences. Reciprocal differences were found for most traits measured in the cross of Robut 33-1 x Argentine, a cross of Virginia x Spanish botanical types. Lack of fit of the additive-dominance model indicated significant epistasis for inheritance of nodule number, nodule weight, top dry weight, and nitrogenase activity in both crosses. Three types of digenic interactions (additive x additive, additive x dominance and dominance x dominance) were found. The presence of nonadditive genetic effects suggests that early generation selection would be ineffective.

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Author notes

1Paper No. 11713 of the Journal Series of the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service, Raleigh, NC 27695-7643, USA. This publication was partially supported by the Peanut CRSP, USAID grant number DAN-4048-G-SS-2065-00 (recommendations do not represent an official position or policy of USAID) and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.