Evaluation of the maize (Zea mays L.) diversity on the Archipelago of Madeira
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The variability of 43 open-pollinated populations of maize (Zea mays L.), representing a wide range of ecological conditions on the Archipelago of Madeira, was evaluated based on the morphological and reproductive traits. Individual data of 41 traits related to earliness, plant and tassel structure and the shape of the ear and grain were analysed using multivariate analysis. The populations belonging to two major maize varieties were grouped into four groups by their degree of dissimilarity, based on discriminant analysis. The dissimilarity of these groups was confirmed by the values of the Tukey test. The racial rank of these groups was proposed and a brief description of the maize landraces was presented. This work represents the first morphological characterization and analysis of diversity of maize germplasm for the Archipelago of Madeira where the traditional agricultural practices are still keeping this Portuguese region free from corn hybrids. The description of the Madeiran corn landraces allows us to preserve the existing corn biodiversity and could be used for their registration as conservation landraces or for conservation and breeding proposes worldwide.