Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 86, Issue 3, pp 419–431 | Cite as

Genetic variation among and within provenances of Adansonia digitata L. (Baobab) in seed germination and seedling growth from selected natural populations in Malawi

  • C. R. Y. MunthaliEmail author
  • P. W. Chirwa
  • F. K. Akinnifesi


Baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) trees have a wide variety of subsistence and economic values across sub-Saharan Africa. Knowledge of the genetic variation within and between the species is essential for management and designing domestication, improvement and conservation strategies. Fifty-nine half-sib families were evaluated in the nursery to determine the genetic variation and control within and between the populations from four silvicultural zones. Seed germination and seven seedling growth parameters were assessed. Total phenotypic variance, family variance, within family variance, individual narrow sense heritability, and additive genetic coefficient of variation (AGCV) were derived from observed and expected mean squares. There were highly significant differences in seed germination, plant height, root collar diameter, number of leaves, shoot height and diameter, tuber diameter and weight. Provenance variation in germination ranged from 46.7 ± 3.3 to 68.7 ± 3.3% while tree-to-tree variation ranged from 6.3 ± 8.6 to 95.5 ± 8.6%. Coefficient of variation in seedling growth variables ranged from 18.6 to 43.6%. Individual narrow sense heritabilities (h2) ranged from 0.07 to 0.71. AGCV ranged from 3.21 to 14.67%. Morphological traits showed that mainland populations were genetically distant from the island one. High and moderate additive genetic control of traits and AGCV show the potential that Baobab can also respond well to tree improvement. High phenotypic variation found in the study offers an opportunity to effect selection of superior attributes at both provenance and individual tree-to-tree level.


Indigenous Breeding Selection Diversity 



The first author would like to thank Universities of Mzuzu and Stellenbosch for the financial support. University of Pretoria is thanked for facilitating the writing up of the article. We also extend our thanks to all those that were involved in the caring of the experiment and data collection.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. R. Y. Munthali
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • P. W. Chirwa
    • 2
  • F. K. Akinnifesi
    • 3
  1. 1.Mzuzu UniversityMzuzuMalawi
  2. 2.Pretoria UniversityHatfield, PretoriaSouth Africa
  3. 3.World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Southern Africa Regional Programme, Chitedze Agricultural Research StationLilongwe 3Malawi
  4. 4.Department of ForestryStellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa

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