Extensive nuclear DNA content variation has been observed inZea mays. Of particular interest is the effect of this variation on the agronomic potential of maize. In the present study, yield and growth data were collected on 12 southwestern US maize open-pollinated populations. These populations, originally cultivated by the Indians of the southwestern US for both human and animal consumption and adapted to various altitudes, were grown in replicated plots at the University of Illinois Agronomy-Plant Pathology South Farm. All growth and yield parameters were found to be negatively correlated with nuclear DNA amount. The negative correlations of nuclear DNA amount and growth parameters were more pronounced at 60 days after planting (DAP) than 30 DAP. Agronomically-important yield parameters, such as ear or seed weight and seed number per plant, also exhibited a significant negative correlations with nuclear DNA amount. These correlations demonstrate how the nucleotype may exhibit a high degree of influence on the agronomic phenotype. Although the results presented here represent only three replications at one location in 1 year, the observations noted suggest that nucleotype plays an integral role in determining the agronomic performance of maize. Further studies are needed to fully document this role.
Zea mays L. Genome size Adaptation Nucleotype Agronomic performance