Molecular characterization can quantify and partition variation among genebank holdings: a case study with phenotypically similar accessions of Brassica oleracea var. capitata L. (cabbage) `Golden Acre'
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To better characterize and conserve crop genetic resources, the assessment of genetic identity, relatedness, and structure among entries and collections becomes a priority. In the present study, a random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) assay was applied as a quick, cost-effective, and preliminary screen to quantify and partition the molecular variation among accessions. Fourteen phenotypically uniform accessions of Brassica oleracea var. capitata L. (cabbage) similarly designated as `Golden Acre' were tested with nine decamer oligonucleotide primers. These amplifications generated 110 fragments, of which 80 were polymorphic ranging in size from 370 to 1720 bp. The 80 polymorphic fragments were sufficient to distinguish between all 14 accessions. Data based on the partitioning of variation among accessions indicated that `Golden Acre' entries could be reduced to as few as four groups, with the potential loss of variation being only 4.6% of the absolute current genetic variation in those holdings as estimated from RAPD analysis. This proposed grouping would concurrently save approximately 70% [$750–1000 (US) per accession] for each cycle of regeneration (approximately 20–25 years at most) which alternatively could then be used for other priorities in B. oleracea conservation and use. This case represents but one example where targeted use of a molecular-marker assay linked with rigorous statistical analysis will be useful for plant genebank management, particularly for questions at the intraspecific level. Molecular markers will provide genebank curators with additional sources of information to better plan and organize collection holdings and use finite financial support in a more effective manner.
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