, Volume 164, Issue 1, pp 255–273 | Cite as

Pure-lining of flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) genebank accessions for efficiently exploiting and assessing seed character diversity

  • Axel DiederichsenEmail author
  • J. Philip Raney


Genetic heterogeneity within genebank accessions of a self-pollinating crop has great implications for their preservation, diversity assessment, utilization and exploitation. This study investigated the intra-accession diversity of 38 flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) genebank accessions preserved by Plant Gene Resources of Canada. Seven quantitative seed characters were studied: 1000 seed weight, seed oil concentration and fatty acid proportion of palmitic acid (16:0), stearic acid (18:0), oleic acid (18:1), linoleic acid (18:2) and α-linolenic acid (18:3). Ten additional morphological characters of high heritability were also recorded. In 13 accessions the intra-accession diversity was assessed based on 4 years of observation of 7–12 pure lines selected randomly from the original accessions. From these 13 accessions, seven showed significant variation among the pure lines for all seven seed characters. In five accessions most seed characters showed significant variation and only in one accession the homogeneity of seed characters dominated. Variation was found in landraces, breeding material and cultivars. In 40 cases an attempt was made to identify pure lines within an accession that significantly exceeded the mean value of the original accession in a seed character, for which the original accession had shown high or low values. In 25 cases and for all seven seed characters such pure lines could be detected. In six cases, the most extreme performing pure lines were not from the same accession, that had the highest or lowest accession mean for the considered character. There was no association of morphological variation with variation of the quantitative seed characters. For genebanks, separation of mixed accessions based on obvious phenotypic diversity and in particular based on characters that create a selective pressure is probably the most efficient way to ensure preservation of a wide range of diversity at reasonable cost. For exploitation of diversity in breeding programmes, pure-lining is very useful.


Fatty acid Germplasm characterization Morphology Phenotype Plant breeding Seed oil Self-pollinator 



The authors are very thankful to Ms. D. Campbell and Mr. D. Hennigan for conducting the oil analysis, Mr. P. Kusters and several summer students for maintaining the field plots, and Mr. D. Kessler for assistance in data analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Plant Gene Resources of Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food CanadaSaskatoon Research CentreSaskatoonCanada

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