Yellow maize varieties in Ghana have low beta-carotene levels, but if improved, they could lessen the negative health effects of vitamin-A deficiency. Finding promising yellow maize accessions that could be used to breed higher beta-carotene varieties was the goal of the study. The study involved the collection of 100 local accessions, phenotypic identification, evaluation of genetic relatedness, and quantification of the beta-carotene and total carotenoid contents. The focus of the work was general trait analysis of the maize collections including existing local pro Vitamin A accessions from National Research Stations. A factor score for 15 traits revealed that the main drivers of variation in the first component axis were 100 seed weight, cob weight, and number of kernels per row, whereas the main contributors to variation in the second component axis were cob height, plant height, and leaf length. The third component axis was dominated by 50% anthesis, 50% silking and 50% leaf senescence. The three component axis accounted for 54.19% of the observed variation. Variability was also observed in kernel beta-carotene and total carotenoid contents. It is possible to develop higher beta-carotene varieties from the accessions NZER1 and HONAMPA, which have the highest beta-carotene contents (5.19 and 4.34 μg/g, respectively) and fall within the recommended range (3 to 8 μg/g) for first-generation medium to high pro-vitamin-A maize genotypes.
Key words: Beta-carotene, plant breeding, carotenoid, phenotype, maize, pro-Vitamin A, traits, germplasm.
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