Agronomic and chemical description of open-pollinated varieties of opaque-2 and purple maize (Zea mays L.) adapted to semiarid region of Argentina


The objective of this study was to compare the evolution of two populations of opaque-2 and purple maize in the central semiarid region of Argentina, and to characterize the agronomic traits and grain chemical attributes to conclude the varietal description of each population. Introduced germplasm of both varietal types was grown under rainfed conditions during four crop years (2011/12, 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16) and characterized both agronomically and chemically. Significant differences were observed between varietal types in the morphological traits of plants and cobs, but did not differ in male flowering or female flowering. Purple maize exhibited taller plants with thicker stems and smaller cobs with heavier grains than opaque-2 maize. Purple maize showed lower grain yields (mean of 4.84 vs. 6.16 tn ha−1 in opaque-2 maize) with more marked variations between cycles (3.02 to 6.62 vs. 5.47 to 7.28 tn ha−1 in opaque-2 maize). The effects of the environment and genotype x environment interaction (G × E) were more notable for grain yield and grain chemical features such us protein, amylose and phenolic compound contents. Nonetheless, most of the agronomic traits in each varietal type showed higher genetic effects (67–92% in opaque-2 maize and 55–82% in purple maize) and a lower G × E (3–14% in opaque-2 maize and 7–19% in purple maize). The advances of this study represent substantial efforts on the development, characterization and description of maize genetic resources in Argentina, which represent potential raw materials for the functional-foods industry.

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Fig. 1

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are not publicly available due to being protected by intellectual property. Data are however available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.



Open-pollination varieties


International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center


Plant height


Ear height


Number of leaves


Stem diameter


Ears per plant


Cob length


Cob diameter


Row number


Grains per row


Weight of 100 grains


Grain yield


Male flowering period


Female flowering period


Dry weight


Resistant starch


Non-resistant starch


Total polyphenol content


Total anthocyanin content


Coefficient of variation


Genetic variance


Environmental variance

G × E:

Genotype × environment interaction variance


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The authors acknowledge Gabriela Díaz Cortez for providing useful suggestions to improve the English language of the manuscript.


This work was supported by the Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica (ANPCyT, PICT-2012, N°1050) and the Secretaría de Ciencia y Tecnología de la Universidad Nacional de Córdoba (SECyT–UNC, 33620180100821CB).

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PSM: Conceptualization, methodology, formal analysis and investigation, writing—original draft preparation; NFB: methodology, investigation; MCN: resources, methodology, investigation; GTP: supervision, writing—reviewing, funding acquisition. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Pablo S. Mansilla.

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Mansilla, P.S., Bongianino, N.F., Nazar, M.C. et al. Agronomic and chemical description of open-pollinated varieties of opaque-2 and purple maize (Zea mays L.) adapted to semiarid region of Argentina. Genet Resour Crop Evol (2021).

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  • Crop evolution
  • Morphological traits
  • Phenotypic characterization
  • Improved populations