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An evaluation of the utility of SSR loci as molecular markers in maize (Zea mays L.): comparisons with data from RFLPS and pedigree


 The utility of 131 simple sequence repeat (SSR) loci to characterize and identify maize inbred lines, validate pedigree, and show associations among inbred lines was evaluated using a set of 58 inbred lines and four hybrids. Thirteen sets of inbred parent-progeny triplet pedigrees together with four hybrids and their parental lines were used to quantify incidences of scoring that departed from expectations based upon simple Mendelian inheritance. Results were compared to those obtained using 80 restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) probes. Over all inbred triplets, 2.2% of SSRs and 3.6% of RFLP loci resulted in profiles that were scored as having segregated in a non-Mendelian fashion. Polymorphic index content (PIC, a measure of discrimination ability) values ranged from 0.06 to 0.91 for SSRs and from 0.10 to 0.84 for RFLPs. Mean values for PIC for SSRs and RFLPs were similar, approximately 0.62. However, PIC values for nine SSRs exceeded the maximum PIC for RFLPs. Di-repeats gave the highest mean PIC scores for SSRs but this class of repeats can result in “stutter” bands that complicate accurate genotyping. Associations among inbreds were similar for SSR and RFLP data, closely approximating expectations from known pedigrees. SSR technology presents the potential advantages of reliability, reproducibility, discrimination, standardization and cost effectiveness over RFLPs. SSR profiles can be readily interpreted in terms of alleles at mapped loci across a broad range of maize germ plasm. Consequently, SSRs represent the optimum approach for the identification and pedigree validation of maize genotypes compared to other currently available methods.

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Received: 15 January 1997 / Accepted: 28 February 1997

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Smith, J., Chin, E., Shu, H. et al. An evaluation of the utility of SSR loci as molecular markers in maize (Zea mays L.): comparisons with data from RFLPS and pedigree. Theor Appl Genet 95, 163–173 (1997).

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  • Key words Simple sequence repeat
  • Microsatellite
  • SSRs
  • Maize
  • Variety identification