Aflatoxin, produced by Aspergillus flavus, is one of the most toxic and carcinogenic substances known and contaminates many agricultural commodities such as corn, peanuts, cottonseed, and tree nuts. The challenge to breeders/plant pathologists is to identify lines that have resistance to aflatoxin production. Maize population GT-MAS:gk has been identified and released as a germplasm with resistance to aflatoxin contamination. In the present study, we assessed genetic divergence in the GT-MAS:gk population using restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) DNA markers to survey 11 selfed inbred lines and conducted field evaluations for the dissimilarities in aflatoxin production among these inbred lines in comparison with a sister population, GT-MAS:pw,nf. The 11 selfed inbred lines were assayed for DNA polymorphism using 113 RFLP markers in 10 linkage groups covering 1,518.2 centimorgans (cM; unit of gene or chromosome size). Considerable variation among the inbreds was detected with RFLP markers, of which 42 probe-enzyme combinations gave 102 polymorphic bands. Cluster analysis based on genetic similarities revealed associations and variations among the tested lines. Three polymorphic groups were distinguished by cluster analysis. Two years of field evaluation data showed that aflatoxin concentrations among the lines were significantly different in both years (P < 0.001). Maturity data were also different. Thus, this study demonstrates that the maize population GT-MAS:gk is heterogeneous and that individuals may be different in resistance to A. flavus infection and aflatoxin production. Therefore, the most resistant lines should be inbred to increase homogeneity, and resistance should be confirmed through progeny testing.

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Author notes

Present address: Mision Biologica de Galicia, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC), Apartado 28, 36080 Pontevedra, Spain.