, Volume 111, Issue 5, pp 906-913
Date: 30 Jul 2005

Genetic structure and diversity of European flint maize populations determined with SSR analyses of individuals and bulks

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Landraces of maize represent a valuable genetic resource for breeding and genetic studies. Using simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers, we analysed five flint maize populations from Central Europe that had played an important role in the pre-hybrid era in Germany. Our objectives were to (1) investigate the molecular genetic diversity within and among the populations based on the SSR analysis of individuals, (2) compare these results of the SSR analysis based on individuals with those based on bulks, (3) examine genotype frequencies for deviations from Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium (HWE) at individual loci, and (4) test for linkage disequilibrium (LD) between pairs of loci within populations. Thirty individuals and their bulked DNA per population were fingerprinted with 55 SSR markers. Across all populations, 46.7% of the SSR markers deviated significantly from HWE, with an excess of homozygosity in 97% of the cases. This excess of homozygosity can largely be explained by experimental errors during the amplification of SSRs apart from genuine genetic causes. Allele frequencies of the SSR analyses of individuals and bulks were significantly correlated (r=0.85, P< 0.01), suggesting that SSR analysis of bulks is very cost-effective for large-scale molecular characterisation of germplasm collections. No evidence for genome-wide LD among pairs of loci was observed, indicating that the populations are well suited for high resolution association mapping studies.

Communicated by D. A. Hoisington