, Volume 94, Issue 3-4, pp 514-521

The distinctness and diversity of Ethiopian barleys

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 The relative diversity and distinctness of Ethiopian barleys has been investigated using (1) morphology/isozyme/hordein polymorphisms and (2) RFLP markers. In the former a set of 51 landraces from over the whole of Ethiopia was compared with Iranian landraces based on data from previous studies and new hordein data. The two sets of landraces were found to have a comparable diversity. The Ethiopian ones are more diverse morphologically (5 traits), are similar in numbers of alleles per protein locus (17 loci) and in genetic differentiation, but are less diverse in average heterozygosity per locus and degree of polymorphism. However, on the basis of the hordein data the two sources of germplasm are very distinct. The correlation between morphological and protein diversity is very low. In the RFLP study 28 probes evenly distributed across the genome were used to analyse 43 Ethiopian landraces (represented by one single genotype) and to compare them with modern cultivars from North America, Europe and Japan, as well as 3 landraces from Iran, 1 from Nepal, and 1 accession of H. spontaneum from Afghanistan. The major finding was that the Ethiopian germplasm appears to be significantly less diverse than the modern germplasm but that it is genotypically very distinct. The apparent contradiction between a high diversity of useful genes coming from Ethiopia and an apparently low diversity at the DNA level is discussed.

Received: 22 July 1996 / Accepted: 26 July 1996