Assessing genetic diversity of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) germplasm using microsatellite markers
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A set of 24 wheat microsatellite markers, representing at least one marker from each chromosome, was used for the assessment of genetic diversity in 998 accessions of hexaploid bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) which originated from 68 countries of five continents. A total of 470 alleles were detected with an average allele number of 18.1 per locus. The highest number of alleles per locus was detected in the B genome with 19.9, compared to 17.4 and 16.5 for genomes A and D, respectively. The lowest allele number per locus among the seven homoeologous groups was observed in group 4. Greater genetic variation exists in the non-centromeric regions than in the centromeric regions of chromosomes. Allele numbers increased with the repeat number of the microsatellites used and their relative distance from the centromere, and was not dependent on the motif of microsatellites. Gene diversity was correlated with the number of alleles. Gene diversity according to Nei for the 26 microsatellite loci varied from 0.43 to 0.94 with an average of 0.77, and was 0.78, 0.81 and 0.73 for three genomes A, B and D, respectively. Alleles for each locus were present in regular two or three base-pair steps, indicating that the genetic variation during the wheat evolution occurred step by step in a continuous manner. In most cases, allele frequencies showed a normal distribution. Comparative analysis of microsatellite diversity among the eight geographical regions revealed that the accessions from the Near East and the Middle East exhibited more genetic diversity than those from the other regions. Greater diversity was found in Southeast Europe than in North and Southwest Europe. The present study also indicates that microsatellite markers permit the fast and high throughput fingerprinting of large numbers of accessions from a germplasm collection in order to assess genetic diversity.
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