Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution

, Volume 59, Issue 6, pp 1125–1146 | Cite as

Genetic diversity and relationships in Corchorus olitorius (Malvaceae s.l.) inferred from molecular and morphological data

  • Solomon BenorEmail author
  • Sebsebe Demissew
  • Karl Hammer
  • Frank R. Blattner
Research Article


In this study, we investigated the genetic diversity and relationships in C. olitorius by analysing populations representing different distribution areas, and developed a hypothesis on the origin and spread of the species in the pantropics. We employed amplified fragment lengths polymorphism (AFLP) and morphometric analyses in a total of 101 C. olitorius accessions. Results of both data sets are mostly congruent. The molecular analysis indicated generally low genetic diversity within populations and the Nei’s gene diversity (He) ranged from 0.0457 to 0.0955 with a mean of 0.0763. Qualitative traits, especially related to leaf morphology, branching habit and stipule color were the taxonomically most informative characters. The highest morphological variability occurred within African accessions, indicating that this species originally evolved in Africa. In both analyses, the Asian materials were nested within African populations, especially with those from North and East Africa. This indicates an African origin of the species and we hypothesise that dispersal occurred via the Mediterranean–Indian trade routes instead of natural migration along the coasts from western Africa to the Indian subcontinent. Both analyses revealed materials from Ethiopia to be quite distinct. The highest number of private bands (N = 35), percent polymorphism (29.29%), and gene diversity (0.0955) were also detected in wild accessions collected from Ethiopia, suggesting a long-term spatial isolation of C. olitorius populations in the country. Germplasm samples from this region could therefore be a useful source of genetic variation in jute breeding programs.


AFLP Bayesian inference Corchorus olitorius Domestication Jute Malvaceae s.l. Morphometric analysis Population structure 



S.B. acknowledges support by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Seed samples of germplasm accessions for the present study were kindly provided by the University of Basel (Switzerland), University of Duisburg (Germany), University of Mainz (Germany), University of Göttingen (Germany), University of Giessen (Germany), University of Padua (Italy), World Vegetable Center (Taiwan, Tanzania), Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (UK), N.I. Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry (Russia), and the USDA-ARS (USA). We thank Petra Oswald, Christina Koch and Jürgen Marlow for the help in the AFLP and greenhouse studies. We are very grateful to the Institute of Biodiversity Conservation (IBC) and Department of Biology of the Addis Ababa University for the help provided in the process of germplasm export.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Solomon Benor
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sebsebe Demissew
    • 2
  • Karl Hammer
    • 3
  • Frank R. Blattner
    • 1
  1. 1.Taxonomy and Evolutionary Biology, Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK)GaterslebenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Biology, Science FacultyAddis Ababa UniversityAddis AbabaEthiopia
  3. 3.Department of Agrobiodiversity, Institute of Crop ScienceKassel UniversityKasselGermany

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