, Volume 114, Issue 6, pp 1029-1038
Date: 31 Jan 2007

Microsatellite variation in Avena sterilis oat germplasm

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The Avena sterilis L. collection in the Plant Gene Resources of Canada (PGRC) consists of 11,235 accessions originating from 27 countries and is an invaluable source of genetic variation for genetic improvement of oats, but it has been inadequately characterized, particularly using molecular techniques. More than 35 accessions have been identified with genes for resistance to oat crown and stem rusts, but little is known about their comparative genetic diversity. This study attempted to characterize a structured sample of 369 accessions representing 26 countries and two specific groups with Puccinia coronata avenae (Pc) and Puccinia graminis avenae (Pg) resistance genes using microsatellite (SSR) markers. Screening of 230 SSR primer pairs developed from other major crop species yielded 26 informative primer pairs for this characterization. These 26 primer pairs were applied to screen all the samples and 125 detected alleles were scored for each accession. Analyses of the SSR data showed the effectiveness of the stratified sampling applied in capturing country-wise SSR variation. The frequencies of polymorphic alleles ranged from 0.01 to 0.99 and averaged 0.28. More than 90% of the SSR variation resided within accessions of a country. Accessions from Greece, Liberia, and Italy were genetically most diverse, while accessions from Egypt, Georgia, Ethiopia, Gibraltar, and Kenya were most distinct. Seven major clusters were identified, each consisting of accessions from multiple countries and specific groups, and these clusters were not well congruent with geographic origins. Accessions with Pc and Pg genes had similar levels of SSR variation, did not appear to cluster together, and were not associated with the other representative accessions. These SSR patterns are significant for understanding the progenitor species of cultivated oat, managing A. sterilis germplasm, and exploring new sources of genes for oat improvement.

Communicated by J.-L. Jannink.