Popcorn (Zea mays var. everta) has a higher commercial value than common maize, in addition to being a popular food among consumers. Today, there is a constant search for cultivars with superior performance for several traits of interest in the case of popcorn, yield and popping expansion. On this basis, this project proposes to characterize progenies of popcorn with different values of expansion capacity regarding chemical composition and micromorphology. Kernels from the fifth cycle (C5) of intrapopulation recurrent selection were evaluated. The progenies were selected based on the popping expansion volume of their kernels. The kernels were quantified for amylose and analyzed for starch granule arrangement and pericarp thickness by scanning electron microscopy. Progenies with low popping expansion volume (0 and 7 mL g-1) showed amylose contents of 21.24 and 20.18%, respectively; a less compact endosperm, with individual starch granules interspaced with empty spaces; and pericarp thickness between 40.94 and 38.99 µm, respectively. By contrast, progenies with high popping expansion volume (30 and 35 mL g-1) showed amylose contents of 23.92 and 26.10%; a vitreous endosperm; more-compact starch granules without empty spaces in between; and pericarp thickness between 107.66 and 107.84 µm. Progenies with higher popping expansion volume exhibited a thicker pericarp, a high amylose percentage and a more-compact endosperm, whereas those with the lower expansion volumes showed a thinner pericarp, a lower amylose percentage and individual starch granules.
Zea mays var. everta; endosperm; pericarp; starch granule; thickness.