Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution

, Volume 62, Issue 7, pp 1037–1053 | Cite as

Diversity in 198 Ethiopian linseed (Linum usitatissimum) accessions based on morphological characterization and seed oil characteristics

  • Negash WorkuEmail author
  • J. S. Heslop-Harrison
  • Wakjira Adugna
Research Article


Morphological and molecular characterization of germplasm is important for the sustainable exploitation of crops. Linseed or flax (Linum usitatissimum) is a multipurpose crop grown in many environments for food, feed, fibre and industry. In Ethiopia, a centre of diversity for linseed, it is valued for food and export. Here, we aimed to develop and use a set of morphological descriptors to determine levels and patterns of diversity in Ethiopian germplasm from the tropical highlands (3–15°N, > 2,000 m a.s.l.) in 198 Ethiopian traditional varieties. The Ethiopian traditional varieties included plants with both fibre and oil-seed stem-branching morphotypes, although most were relatively small-seeded. Traditional variety oil quality was assessed; oil content was as low as 30 % compared to 47 % reported elsewhere. Days-to-flowering and days-to-maturity varied widely and were highly heritable. Ethiopian linseed had dominant and recessive yellow seed genotypes; some had a recessive conjoined or conjoined-seed character. The descriptors developed here will be useful for genetic mapping and selection of breeding lines. The results show the range of characters which can be exploited in breeding lines appropriate for smallholder and commercial farmers in Ethiopia, producing a sustainable, secure, high-value crop meeting agricultural, economic and cultural needs.


Biodiversity Descriptors Ethiopia Flax/Linseed Landraces Linum usitatissimum Varieties 



Holetta and Adiet Agriculture Research Centres, Institute of Biodiversity and Conservation, and local farmers from Ethiopia are acknowledged for your kind and generous provision of us with linseed germplasm, as research materials for the studies. The Amhara Agricultural Research Centre, Gondar branch was providing us research field and we thank the Centre for that. The University of Gondar and University of Leicester, GENIE project, Holetta Agricultural Research Centre, Prof. Pat Heslop-Harrison and Dr Trude Schwarzacher’s miscellaneous projects fund were the sources of funds for the research.

Supplementary material

10722_2014_207_MOESM1_ESM.docx (84 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 83 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Negash Worku
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • J. S. Heslop-Harrison
    • 1
  • Wakjira Adugna
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK
  2. 2.Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural ResearchAddis AbabaEthiopia
  3. 3.University of GondarGondarEthiopia

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