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Molecular assessment of genetic diversity of Tanzanian and aflatoxin-resistant maize (Zea mays. L) accessions

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Genetic distance information for various maize accessions is important for germplasm improvement and breeding program. However, this information is limited in most of the developing countries such as Tanzania. The present study was conducted to analyze the genetic diversity between Tanzanian maize accessions and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) lines as a strategy to create heterotic groups for maize breeding. Thirty Tanzanian maize accessions (14 inbred lines, 8 open-pollinated varieties, and 8 landraces) and 10 tester lines from CIMMYT were studied to estimate the molecular genetic variability using Euclidean distance determined by simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers. Fifteen SSR markers, resulting in general maize alleles, were used to determine genetic diversity, where 13 markers were amplified with an average PIC of 0.73. Where a moderate genetic distance between Tanzanian maize accessions and resistant lines, ranging from 0.13 to 0.57, was determined. The 40 maize genotypes (testers and accessions) were studied by using SSR markers classified into three major groups and further divided into 5 subgroups, which were later used to create the heterotic groups. The heterotic groups drawn and determined in phylogenetic tree showed distinct variations among studied genotypes. The study concludes that there is significant (P < 0.001) genetic diversity among the maize genotypes, which are essential breeding materials for producing superior maize hybrids with high combining ability and high heritability of traits of interest, such as high yielding and resistance to aflatoxin contamination. Thus, Tanzanian maize breeders can utilize the available maize genotypes to develop hybrids with high yield and resistance to aflatoxin contamination.

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The datasets used and analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author upon request.


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The authors wish to thank all collaborators at Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST), Arusha, Tanzania, and Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute, Kilosa, Morogoro, Tanzania, and Department of Crop Science and Horticulture, College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Mbeya University of Science and Technology, for their technical and guidance support during the development of this article.


The present study was supported by the Government of Tanzania, Through the Ministry of Agriculture under the Tanzania Initiative for Prevention of Aflatoxins Contamination (TANIPAC) project.

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Authors and Affiliations



G.F.B, M.M, A.M, and P.B.V were provided conceptualization, methodology, writing—original draft preparation, and writing—review and editing. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the present manuscript.

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Correspondence to Gregory F. Bundala.

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The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in the paper.

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Communicated by Hakan Özkan.

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Bundala, G.F., Mng’ong’o, M., Mushongi, A.A. et al. Molecular assessment of genetic diversity of Tanzanian and aflatoxin-resistant maize (Zea mays. L) accessions. CEREAL RESEARCH COMMUNICATIONS (2024).

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