Genetic variability among elite popcorn lines based on molecular and morphoagronomic characteristics.
Knowledge of genetic diversity among genotypes and relationships among elite lines is of great importance for the development of breeding programs. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate genetic variability based on the morphoagronomic and molecular characterization of 18 elite popcorn (Zea mays var. everta) lines to be used by Universidade Estadual de Maringá breeding programs. We used 31 microsatellite primers (widely distributed in the genome), and 16 morphological descriptors (including the resistance to maize white spot, common rust, polysora rust of maize, cercospora and leaf blights). The molecular data revealed variability among the lines, which were divided into four groups that were partially concordant with unweighted pair group method with arithmetic mean (UPMGA) and Bayesian clusters. The lines G3, G4, G11, and G13 exhibited favorable morphological characters and low disease incidence rates. The four groups were confirmed using the Gower distance in the UPGMA cluster; however, there was no association with the dissimilarity patterns obtained using the molecular data. The absence of a correlation suggests that both characterizations (morphoagronomic and molecular) are important for discriminating among elite popcorn lines.