Popping expansion volume is the most important quality trait in popcorn (Zea mays L.), but its genetics is not well understood. The objectives of this study were to map quantitative trait loci (QTLs) responsible for popping expansion volume in a popcorn x dent corn cross, and to compare the predicted efficiencies of phenotypic selection, marker-based selection, and marker-assisted selection for popping expansion volume. Of 259 simple sequence repeat (SSR) primer pairs screened, 83 pairs were polymorphic between the H123 (dent corn) and AG19 (popcorn) parental inbreds. Popping test data were obtained for 160 S1 families developed from the [AG19(H123 x AG19)] BC1 population. The heritability (h2) for popping expansion volume on an S1 family mean basis was 0.73. The presence of the gametophyte factor Ga1s in popcorn complicates the analysis of popcorn x dent corn crosses. But, from a practical perspective, the linkage between a favorable QTL allele and Ga1s in popcorn will lead to selection for the favorable QTL allele. Four QTLs, on chromosomes 1S, 3S, 5S and 5L, jointly explained 45% of the phenotypic variation. Marker-based selection for popping expansion volume would require less time and work than phenotypic selection. But due to the high h2 of popping expansion volume, marker-based selection was predicted to be only 92% as efficient as phenotypic selection. Marker-assisted selection, which comprises index selection on phenotypic and marker scores, was predicted to be 106% as efficient as phenotypic selection. Overall, our results suggest that phenotypic selection will remain the preferred method for selection in popcorn x dent corn crosses.
- Marker-assisted selection
- Popping expansion volume
- Quantitative trait loci (QTL)