, Volume 52, Issue 1, pp 41-52

Genetic diversity and differentiation of Camellia sinensis L. (cultivated tea) and its wild relatives in Yunnan province of China, revealed by morphology, biochemistry and allozyme studies

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We evaluated morphological, isozyme and biochemical diversity of a total of 87 accessions in the genus Camellia [Camellia sinensis var. sinensis (10), C. talinensis (7), C. sinensis var. dehungensis (3), C. crassicolumna (3) and C. sinensis var. assamica (64)]. Great variation of morphological characters was apparent within each taxa. Across the five taxa, all leaf and most flower quantitative characters showed significant differences while all fruit quantitative characters measured did not differ significantly, and, seven (i.e., life form, bud color, petal texture, pubescence on ovary, style number, stamen location and locule per fruit) of the 33 qualitative characters yield significant differences. As a whole, caffeine content had the highest variation with CV of 22.7%, water extract solid showed the least variation (13.4%) and content of polyphenols (20.0%) and free amino acids (18.8%) showed intermediate variations. Camellia taliensis and C. sinensis var. assamica had significantly higher content of polyphenols and water extract solid than in the other three taxa, while no significant differences were detected for the content of caffeine and free amino acids. For allozyme study, 14 loci presented good resolution, among which, nine loci (64%) were polymorphic in each taxon (AAT-3, FUM-1, 6PDG-1, G6PDH-1, G3PDH-1, ME-1, PGM-1, PGM-2 and SKD-1). The percentage of polymorphic loci (P) for each taxon was 21.4–50.0%. Mean heterozygosity per locus (H e ) varied 0.114–0.218. F ST value indicated that only 4.6% of the variations could be ascribable to genetic differences among taxa. Genetic relationships among the five taxa revealed by allozymes, were also exposed by the result of clustering of the morphological and biochemical characters.