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Traditional seed management and genetic diversity in barley varieties in high-hill agro-ecosystems of Nepal


Chawali and Lekali are two common farmer’s barley varieties or landraces in Jumla, Nepal (2,240–3,000 m) with small to bold grains and wide adaptation from irrigated low lands to high hills. This study was undertaken to test whether features of the traditional seed system can significantly influence the diversity of a crop and its conservation on-farm. In Jumla (high-hill), the barley seed system is completely informal and is mainly from farmer to farmer. In the present study, the seed flows and the pattern of genetic diversity in barley were investigated to detect differences between the two varieties and test the divergence among populations of each variety These data suggested that Chawali, the more common variety, was less subject to homogenising gene flow between farms than was Lekali. A total of 128 farming households were surveyed for seed supply information and 128 populations for each landrace from two villages: Kartikswami and Talium were collected for SSR diversity analysis. Some 92 SSRs were screened in an initial sample of 20 barley populations of both landraces and 2 improved varieties (LG-51 and Soluwa). Of the 81 SSRs that consistently amplified, only 15 SSRs (19%) were polymorphic with gene diversity values ranging from 0.09 to 0.71. A medium to low diversity was detected among the landrace populations of barley varieties. Chawali populations were less polymorphic within ecological groups, and more divergent between than were Lekail populations. This result accords with Chawali having a more conservative local seed system.

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This paper is the part of Bioversity International’s Global project “Strengthening the scientific basis of in situ conservation of agricultural biodiversity on farm: Seed System and Genetic Diversity of Barley, Nepal” (78SW D12B). We thank Dr. JR Russell of Scottish Crop Research Institute, Dundee, UK for sequence information of EST SSRs and its alliquits, Dr. MP. Upadhyay, for coordination, Mrss. J. Shrestha and B. Dangol for technical assistance in glasshouse and molecular lab, Mrssrs. ML Vaidya, ARS Jumla and Mr. JD Neupane, Plant Pathology Division, NARC, Khumaltar for assistance in conducting the survey work and collection of seed samples for the study, and Dr. Ramanath Rao for comments on the manuscript. The authors finally express sincere thanks to the farmers in Talium and Kartikswami, who provided the seed and information essential for the study.

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Correspondence to Jwala Bajracharya.

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Bajracharya, J., Brown, A.H.D., Joshi, B.K. et al. Traditional seed management and genetic diversity in barley varieties in high-hill agro-ecosystems of Nepal. Genet Resour Crop Evol 59, 389–398 (2012).

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  • Hordeum vulgare
  • Simple sequence repeat
  • Genetic diversity
  • Polymorphic loci
  • Informal seed system