High genetic diversity revealed in barley (Hordeum vulgare) collected from small-scale farmer’s fields in Eritrea
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- Backes, G., Orabi, J., Wolday, A. et al. Genet Resour Crop Evol (2009) 56: 85. doi:10.1007/s10722-008-9347-5
Remarkable morphological variation has been found within small Eritrean barley fields. Barley was collected from fields approximately 50 m2 in size. Spike shape, type, and colour were observed to vary both between and within fields. A set of 39 Simple Sequence Repeats (SSR) markers were used to explore the genetic diversity of the Eritrean barley collected from small-scale farmer’s fields. Significant genetic diversity was found within the barley fields. Out of 240 spikes collected from 24 fields (10 spikes per field), only two spikes from geographically distant fields were genetically similar. Based on the SSR data, individual farmers’ fields were found to possess 97.3% of the genetic variation present in the Eritrean barley. We discuss a strategy to improve the barley yield in Eritrea, and to facilitate the in situ conservation of barley genetic diversity.