Heterotic groups and patterns are of fundamental importance in hybrid breeding of maize (Zea mays L.). The major goal of this study was to investigate the relationship between heterosis and genetic distance determined with simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers. The objectives of our research were to (i) compare the genetic diversity within and between seven tropical maize populations, (ii) test alternative hypotheses on the relationship between panmictic midparent heterosis (PMPH) and genetic distances determined with SSR markers, and (iii) evaluate the use of SSR markers for grouping of germplasm and establishing heterotic patterns in hybrid breeding of tropical maize. Published data of a diallel of seven tropical maize populations evaluated for agronomic traits in seven environments were reanalyzed to calculate PMPH in population hybrids. In addition, 48 individuals from each population were sampled and assayed with 85 SSR markers covering the entire maize genome. A total of 532 alleles in the 7 × 48 genotypes assayed were detected. The analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) revealed that 89.8% of the variation was found within populations and only 10.2% between populations. The correlation between PMPH and the squared modified Roger's distance (MRD) based on SSR markers was significantly positive (P < 0.05) only for grain yield (r = 0.63). With SSR analyses, it was possible to assign Population 29 (Pop29) to the established Heterotic Group A and propose new heterotic groups (Pop25, Pop43). We conclude that SSR markers provide a powerful tool for grouping of germplasm and are a valuable complementation to field trials for identifying groups with satisfactory heterotic response.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agronomy and Crop Science