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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Phylogenetic Relationships among North American Popcorns and Their Evolutionary Links to Mexican and South American Popcorns

Authors
item Santacruz-Varela, A - MONTECILLO, EDO DE MEXICO
item Widrlechner, Mark
item Ziegler, K - IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY
item Salvador, R - IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY
item Millard, M - IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY
item Bretting, Peter

Submitted to: Crop Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 23, 2004
Publication Date: July 1, 2004
Citation: Santacruz-Varela, A., Widrlechner, M.P., Ziegler, K.E., Salvador, R.J., Millard, M.J., Bretting, P.K. 2004. Phylogenetic relationships among North American popcorns and their evolutionary links to Mexican and South American popcorns. Crop Science. 44: 1456-1467.

Interpretive Summary: In comparison to field and sweet corns, the origin of North American popcorns and genetic relationships among different popcorns are poorly understood. To gain a better understanding of popcorn varieties, 56 types from the United States and nine Latin American countries were evaluated for ear and plant traits, timing of flowering, and enzyme and DNA markers. Statistical analyses were conducted on the evaluation data to study relationships among these popcorns within a geographical and historical context. We identified three groups of popcorn, with distinctive plant and ear characteristics and genetic profiles. The first group includes the North American Yellow Pearl Popcorns, which are currently the most important commercial varieties in the United States. This group may be derived from introductions of the Chilean race Curagua into New England in the 19th Century. The second group includes the North American Pointed Rice Popcorns, which probably originated from a complex of traditional Latin American pointed popcorns, which diffused from the highlands of central Mexico into northern Mexico and then into southwestern United States. The third group includes the North American Early Popcorns, which show a marked influence of Northern Flint corn, along with genetic influences of varieties from northwestern Mexico and even from early European popcorn varieties introduced into the United States late in the 19th Century. We propose that these three groups of popcorn be recognized as distinct races. This information should be valuable for popcorn breeders and researchers needing to effectively sample the diversity of North American popcorns.

Technical Abstract: To determine genetic relationships among representative popcorns of the New World, 56 maize populations from the United States and nine Latin American countries were characterized for 29 morphological traits, 18 isozyme loci and 31 SSR loci. Cluster and principal component analyses were performed upon standardized morphological data and allelic frequencies from isozyme and SSR loci to elucidate relationships among populations within a geographical and historical context. Three groups of popcorn, with distinctive morphological characteristics and genetic profiles, were identified in the North American populations. The first group includes the North American Yellow Pearl Popcorns, which are currently the most important for U.S. commercial production. This group could be derived from introductions of the race Curagua from Chile into New England in the 19th Century. The second group includes the North American Pointed Rice Popcorns, which probably originated from the complex of traditional races of pointed popcorns from Latin America, such as Palomero Toluqueño, Confite Puntiagudo, Canguil and Pisankalla, which diffused from the highlands of central Mexico into northern Mexico and then into southwestern United States. The third group includes the North American Early Popcorns, which show a marked influence of Northern Flint maize, from which they probably acquired the trait of early maturity. This third group also shows genetic influences of maize from northwestern Mexico and even from early European varieties of popcorn introduced late in the 19th Century. We propose that the three groups of popcorn identified in this study be recognized taxonomically as distinct races.

Last Modified: 10/30/2014