Optimisation of the randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) technique for the characterisation of selected South African maize (Zea mays L.) breeding material.
Maize (Zea mays L.) is an important agronomic crop with the maize industry forming an important component of the South African economy. Considerable effort has been directed towards the genetic improvement of maize through both conventional breeding and biotechnology. Genotype identification by DNA fingerprinting is becoming an important activity in plant breeding. A widely used molecular based and relatively inexpensive method for DNA fingerprinting is the randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) technique. The RAPD technique was tested in this study for its potential use in maize breeding programmes. Initial results using the technique showed a low degree of reproducibility, therefore both the DNA isolation and RAPD protocols were extensively optimised. DNA quality and quantity, and choice of Taq polymerase buffer were three of the variables found to be influential in ensuring reproducibility. The ability of the RAPD technique to characterise seven maize genotypes was evaluated. Sixty random oligonucleotide primers were screened. Forty two primers scored a total of 233 fragments (an average of 5.5 per primer), but not all primers gave reproducible profiles. Eighteen primers scored a total of 110 loci for the presence (1) and absence (0) of DNA fragments. RAPD markers were able to distinguish between all seven genotypes with five primers producing specific fragments for four genotypes. Genetic similarity matrices were calculated using two software programmes i.e. Genstat 5™ release 4.1 (1993) and PAUP (Phylogenetic Analysis Using Parsimony) 4.0 beta version (Swafford, 1998). Cluster analysis was used to generate dendrograms to visualise the genetic relationships of the seven maize genotypes (only minor differences were observed between the Genstat or PAUP method of analysis). Genetic diversity ranged from 0.62 to 0.96. The estimation of genetic relationship was in accordance with the presumed pedigree of the genotypes showing that the RAPD technique demonstrates potential for genome analysis of maize. The applicability of the technique for marker assisted selection was also evaluated. Near-isogenic lines (NILs) for leaf blight (Helminthosporium spp.) were screened for polymorphisms using a total of 120 primers. Ten primers identified polymorphisms between the NILs. Four primers produced five polymorphic fragments present in the resistant inbred K0315Y and absent in the susceptible inbred D0940Y. A small F2 population of 14 individuals was produced by selfing the F1 of a cross between K0315Y and D0940Y. To speed up the generation time, the F1 and F2 plants were cultured by embryo rescue from 18d old harvested seed. One fragment of 627 base pairs produced by primer OPB-01 (5' GTTTCGCTCC 3') showed a 3: 1 segregation in the small F2 population and was considered putatively linked to the HtN gene for leaf blight resistance. This study shows that the RAPD technique does have application in maize breeding programmes.