A comparative study of molecular and morphological methods of describing relationships between perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) varieties
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A sample set of registered perennial ryegrass varieties was used to compare how morphological characterisation and AFLP® (AFLP® is a registered trademark of Keygene N.V.) and STS molecular markers described variety relationships. All the varieties were confirmed as morphologically distinct, and both the STS and AFLP markers exposed sufficient genetic diversity to differentiate these registered ryegrass varieties. Distances obtained by each of the approaches were compared, with special attention given to the coincidences and divergences between the methods. When correlations between morphological, AFLP and STS distances were calculated and the corresponding scatter-plots constructed, the variety relationships appeared to be rather inconsistent across the methods, especially between morphology and the molecular markers. However, some consistencies were found for closely related material. An implication could be that these molecular-marker techniques, while not yet suited to certain operations in the traditional registration of new varieties, could be suitable methods for investigating disputable distinctness situations or possible EDV (EDV= essentially derived variety. An EDV is a variety being clearly distinct from, but conforming in the expression of the essential characteristics of, an ’initial variety’ (IV) from which it is found to have been predominantly derived) relationships, subject to establishing standardised protocols and statistical techniques. Some suggestions for such a protocol, including a statistical test for distinctness, are given.
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