Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution

, Volume 61, Issue 3, pp 611–624 | Cite as

Water yam (Dioscorea alata L.) diversity pattern in Brazil: an analysis with SSR and morphological markers

  • Marcos V. B. M. SiqueiraEmail author
  • Maria L. Bonatelli
  • Torsten Günther
  • Inka Gawenda
  • Karl J. Schmid
  • Vitor A. C. Pavinato
  • Elizabeth A. Veasey
Research Article


Substantial progress was made in the last decade in understanding the diversity in Dioscorea species. However, most of the studies so far concentrated in the ‘yam belt in Africa’. We present a genetic diversity and structure analysis among commercial and local varieties of water yam (Dioscorea alata L.) in Brazil using microsatellite and morphological markers. Twelve microsatellite primers were used to generate DNA profiles of 72 local varieties and 17 commercial accessions of water yam collected in four different regions in Brazil. Also, four morphological traits were evaluated on individual plants under field conditions. The morphological characterization showed considerable diversity. High polymorphism was found with 100 % polymorphism observed for 11 primers and a discriminating power value of 0.92, on average. We did not observe a strong population structure among sampling regions, while most of the genetic diversity was concentrated within regions (95.9 %). Analysis of the relationship between accessions did not clearly separate the local and commercial genotypes. However, the molecular analyses of D. alata showed high intraspecific diversity in local accessions from different regions in Brazil, with the highest Shannon index value (H′ = 0.41) for the Southeast region. These results confirmed an admixture of accessions in all sampling regions, consistent with the lack of a significant correlation between geographic and genetic distances, suggesting that farmers exchanged water yam materials extensively. The genetic diversity can be explained by the result of a continuous exchange of accessions by farmers throughout Brazil.


Dioscorea alata Genetic variability Local varieties Microsatellites Traditional agriculture Tubers 



The authors thank the researchers Nivaldo Peroni, Lin C. Ming, Edson Ferreira da Silva, Antonio H. dos Santos, José C. Feltran, Lidinalva R. G. da Silva and Almecina B. Ferreira, for field support and for providing yam germplasm. Our greatest debts go to the farmers in the regions investigated for their interest in participating in our study and for providing us with valuable plant material. This research was supported by the Fundação de Apoio a Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo and Fiat Panis Foundation. EAV thanks CNPq for the scholarship granted.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcos V. B. M. Siqueira
    • 1
    Email author
  • Maria L. Bonatelli
    • 1
  • Torsten Günther
    • 2
  • Inka Gawenda
    • 2
  • Karl J. Schmid
    • 2
  • Vitor A. C. Pavinato
    • 3
  • Elizabeth A. Veasey
    • 1
  1. 1.Genetics Department, Luiz de Queiroz College of AgricultureUniversity of São PauloPiracicabaBrazil
  2. 2.Institute of Plant Breeding, Seed Science and Population GeneticsUniversity of HohenheimStuttgartGermany
  3. 3.Genetics and Evolution DepartmentUniversity of CampinasCampinasBrazil

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