Multivariate approach in popcorn genotypes using the Ward-MLM strategy: morpho-agronomic analysis and incidence of Fusarium spp.
The multivariate analyses are useful tools to estimate the genetic variability between accessions. In the breeding programs, the Ward-Modified Location Model (MLM) multivariate method has been a powerful strategy to quantify variability using quantitative and qualitative variables simultaneously. The present study was proposed in view of the dearth of information about popcorn breeding programs under a multivariate approach using the Ward-MLM methodology. The objective of this study was thus to estimate the genetic diversity among 37 genotypes of popcorn aiming to identify divergent groups associated with morpho-agronomic traits and traits related to resistance to Fusarium spp. To this end, 7 qualitative and 17 quantitative variables were analyzed. The experiment was conducted in 2014, at Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense, located in Campos dos Goytacazes, RJ, Brazil. The Ward-MLM strategy allowed the identification of four groups as follows: Group I with 10 genotypes, Group II with 11 genotypes, Group III with 9 genotypes, and Group IV with 7 genotypes. Group IV was distant in relation to the other groups, while groups I, II, and III were near. The crosses between genotypes from the other groups with those of group IV allow an exploitation of heterosis. The Ward-MLM strategy provided an appropriate grouping of genotypes; ear weight, ear diameter, and grain yield were the traits that most contributed to the analysis of genetic diversity.