Doubled haploid (DH) technology has changed the maize-breeding landscape in recent years. Traditionally, DH production requires the use of chemical doubling agents to induce haploid genome doubling and, subsequently, male fertility. These chemicals can be harmful to humans and the plants themselves, and typically result in a doubling rate of 10%–30%. Spontaneous genome doubling and male fertility of maize haploids, without using chemical doubling agents, have been observed to a limited extent, for nearly 70 years. Rates of spontaneous haploid genome doubling (SHGD) have ranged from less than 5% to greater than 50%. Recently, there has been increased interest to forgo chemical treatment and instead utilize this natural method of doubling. Genetic-mapping studies comprising worldwide germplasm have been conducted. Of particular interest has been the detection of large-effect quantitative trait loci (QTL) affecting SHGD. Having a single large-effect QTL with an additive nature provides flexibility for the method of introgression, such as marker-assisted backcrossing, marker-assisted gene pyramiding, and systematic design. Moreover, it allows implementation of new methodologies, such as haploid-inducer mediated genome editing (HI-edit) and promotion of alleles by genome editing. We believe the use of SHGD can further enhance the impact of DH technology in maize.
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