A better approach to assess plant genetic diversity is the agro-morphological characterization. The main objective of this study was to investigate the morphological variability of 87 maize (Zea mays L.) accessions collected in different agro-ecological zones of southern Benin. Thus, 16 agro-morphological characters (seven quantitative and nine qualitative) were selected from the maize descriptors. The experimental design used is an incomplete randomized block with three replications. The mixed model analysis of two factors variance revealed a very highly significant difference for all accessions for each quantitative agro-morphological characteristic evaluated. The numerical classification of all corn accessions revealed five groups of accessions. The results of the stepwise discriminant analysis revealed five agro-morphological characteristics (germination days, female flowering, plant height, ear height and sensitivity to streak) most discriminating. The results of numerical classification supervised based on the most discriminating variables enable identification of the best accessions. Comparison of the two types of accessions (local and improved) revealed a significant difference among of them for agro-morphological characteristics with some exception. The groups obtained can constitute a database for breeders in a maize breeding program.
Key words: Cultivars, biodiversity, selection, Zea mays L., Benin
Abbreviations: DAS, Days after seedling; CNS-Maïs, National Center of Specialization on corn; NPK, sodium phosphorus and potassium fertilizer.
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