Characterization of genetic diversity among maize inbred lines can facilitate organization of germplasm and improve efficiency of breeding programs. A set of 218 phenotypically diverse inbred maize lines developed at CIMMYT for hybrid production was characterized using 32 RFLP markers to: (1) analyze the genetic diversity present; (2) define potential heterotic groups based on clusters formed with marker data; and (3) identify the most representative testers for each potential heterotic group. Lines were clustered using five different genetic distance measurements to find consensus non-hierarchical clusters. Dendrograms were produced to study hierarchical classification within smaller groups of lines. A very high average allelic diversity was seen in this germplasm. Lines did not cluster based on phenotype, environmental adaptation, grain color or type, maturity, or heterotic response (as determined based on hybrid performance with testers), but lines related by pedigree usually did cluster together. Previously defined testers from opposite heterotic groups were not genetically differentiated, and did not represent well their heterotic group. Discrete clusters were difficult to find; thus, potential heterotic groups will be difficult to suggest using RFLP markers alone. However, suggestions on how to use molecular markers and cross performance information to refine heterotic groups and select representative testers are presented.
Euphytica 92006) 142 (1-2) 97-106 [doi: 10.1007/s10681-005-0817-y]