Exploring the genetic diversity of jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam.) grown in Uganda based on SSR markers

  • Justine NakintuEmail author
  • Christian Albrecht
  • Christina M. Müller
  • Grace Kagoro-Rugunda
  • Morgan Andama
  • Eunice A. Olet
  • Julius B. Lejju
  • Birgit Gemeinholzer
Research Article


Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam. is an economically important tree crop that is widely cultivated in Uganda for its fruit. Despite its economic importance, little is known about the genetic diversity of jackfruit in the country. This puts the crop’s genetic resource at risk as farmers selectively grow varieties based on market demand. The study analyzed the genetic diversity of A. heterophyllus trees from 12 districts belonging to three agro-ecological zones and three political regions of Uganda. Ten SSR loci were used to assess the genetic relationship among 200 trees, 197 from Uganda and 3 out-group individuals. All SSR loci were polymorphic with an average of 10.9 alleles per locus. STRUCTURE analysis proposed two genetic clusters: Cluster 1 was composed of samples from Eastern and neighboring Central districts, and Cluster 2 which constituted out-groups and samples from Western and neighboring Central districts. Results of STRUCTURE analysis were confirmed by PCoA. Mbarara District exhibited the highest genetic diversity (He = 0.79, I = 1.71), while Kamuli (He = 0.61, I = 1.08 and Pallisa (He = 0.59, I = 1.12) displayed the lowest genetic diversity despite high abundances of jackfruit trees. Molecular variation was higher within populations than among populations. Moderate and significant genetic differentiation was registered among geographical zones, while varietal differences displayed little insignificant genetic differentiation. Soft and white pulped varieties, considered inferior on the market, harbored private alleles which may be genetically valuable resources. Therefore, sustainable utilization and conservation efforts of the jackfruit genetic resource should consider preserving inferior varieties for future crop improvement.


Crop improvement Conservation Genetic resource Microsatellites 



The Mbarara University of Science and Technology Institution Review Board and Uganda National Council for Science and Technology are gratefully acknowledged for issuing permits to conduct this research. The authors are grateful to DAAD and Institute of Systematic Botany, Justus-Liebig-University, Giessen, Germany for financing this research. Our sincere gratitude goes to Sabine Mutz, Stefanie Janine Jung, Mohammad Jawarneh, Andreas Kolter, André Fichtner, Volker Weismann for their assistance in the laboratory and Raphael Wangalwa for drawing the maps. We also thank the Botanic Gardens in Bonn and Marburg (both Germany) for providing us with out-group material of their living collection.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.

Ethical approval

The study went through ethical clearance procedures. It was reviewed by both the Institutional Review Board of Mbarara University of Science and Technology and Uganda National Council for Science and Technology. The jackfruit leaf samples were obtained after ascertaining farmers’ consent.

Supplementary material

10722_2019_830_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (74 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 74 kb)
10722_2019_830_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (9 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (XLSX 9 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Justine Nakintu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christian Albrecht
    • 1
    • 2
  • Christina M. Müller
    • 3
  • Grace Kagoro-Rugunda
    • 1
  • Morgan Andama
    • 4
  • Eunice A. Olet
    • 1
  • Julius B. Lejju
    • 1
  • Birgit Gemeinholzer
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of BiologyMbarara University of Science and TechnologyMbararaUganda
  2. 2.Animal Ecology and SystematicsJustus Liebig UniversityGiessenGermany
  3. 3.Systematic BotanyJustus Liebig University GiessenGiessenGermany
  4. 4.Department of BiologyMuni UniversityAruaUganda

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