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ABSTRACT: In situ population studies of wild relatives of crops are crucial for the conservation of plant genetic resources, especially in regions with high genetic diversity and a risk of local extinction. Ethiopia is the center of origin for sorghum, yet little is known about the genetic structure of extant wild populations. Using 9 Simple Sequence Repeat loci, we characterized 19 wild populations from five regions, 8 local cultivar populations from three regions, and 10 wild sorghum accessions from several African countries. To our knowledge, this is the most comprehensive study to date of in situ wild sorghum populations in Africa. Genetic diversity corrected for sample size was significantly greater in the wild populations in situ than in local cultivars or the accessions. Approximately 41 % of the genetic variation in the wild plants was partitioned among populations, indicating a high degree of differentiation and potential value for germplasm conservation, and the average number of migrants (Nm) per generation was 0.43. Cluster analyses showed that some wild populations were grouped by geographic region, whereas others were not, presumably due to long-distance seed movement. Four wild populations from disjunct regions formed a unique cluster with an Ethiopian accession of subsp. drummondii and probably represent a weedy race. STRUCTURE and other analyses detected evidence for crop-wild hybridization, consistent with previous molecular marker studies in Kenya, Mali, and Cameroon. In summary, in situ wild sorghum populations in Ethiopia harbor substantial genetic diversity and differentiation, despite their close proximity to conspecific cultivars in this crop/wild/weedy complex.


Category: Papers Genetic diversity
Authors: Adugna, A. et al.

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