Genetic Diversity Among Traditional Ethiopian Highland Maize Accessions Assessed by Simple Sequence Repeat (SSR) Markers
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Over the past three centuries, maize has become adapted to complex environmental conditions in the highlands of Ethiopia. We analyzed 62 traditional Ethiopian highland maize accessions, using 20 simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers and 15 morphological traits, to assess genetic diversity and relationships among these accessions and to assess the level of correlation between phenotypic and genetic distances. The accessions varied significantly for all of the measured morphological traits. The average number of alleles per locus was 4.9. Pair-wise genetic dissimilarity coefficients ranged from 0.27 to 0.63 with a mean of 0.49. Ward minimum variance cluster analysis showed that accessions collected from the Northern agroecology were distinct from the Western and Southern agroecologies. However, there was no differentiation between the Western and Southern accessions. This suggested gene flow between these regions. The relationship between morphological and SSR-based distances was significant and positive (r = 0.43, p = 0.001). The high genetic diversity observed among these set of accessions, suggests ample opportunity for the development of improved varieties for different agroecologies of Ethiopia. From conservation perspective, sampling many accessions from all agroecologies would be an effective way of capturing genetic variation for future collections and conservation.
KeywordsClustering Ethiopia Genetic diversity Highland maize SSR Zea mays
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