, Volume 150, Issue 3, pp 327-337
Date: 10 Aug 2006

Morphological and molecular diversity of Nordic oat through one hundred years of breeding

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Genetic diversity in microsatellites and development of agronomical characters in Nordic oat cultivars (Avena sativa) from the 20th century, ranging from landraces to new cultivars, were studied. A clear development in agronomical characters has taken place in this period: Straw length has been reduced, harvest index has increased and heading date has declined. The persistent oat breeding effort in the northern part of the region was indicated by the data, since cultivars from this region showed higher harvest index. Also adaptation to shorter summers was apparent in cultivars from the most northern part of the area. When comparing cultivars released after 1940 to the landraces, the loss of diversity revealed for the agronomical characters was also indicated by the molecular data. This indicates that a more general loss of diversity has taken place in the period, possibly due to random factors during the breeding process (bottleneck effect). The reduction in diversity revealed by recent cultivars at an agronomical as well as a molecular level emphasises the importance of implementing a conservation strategy for older material in order to secure genetic diversity for future oat breeding efforts.