Using microsatellite (SSR) and morphological markers to assess the genetic diversity of 12 falcata (Medicago sativa spp. falcata) populations from Eurasia
AbstractFalcata (Medicago sativa spp. falcata L.), with its high resistance to cold weather, drought and disease, plays an important role in alfalfa breeding. The aim of this study was to assess the genetic diversity of
the 12 falcata populations in Eurasia using SSR markers and morphological traits. Regressions for genetic distance, phenotypic distance and geographic distance were also computed to study whether
the origin of these populations influenced their genetic or morphological behavior. A total of 22 SSR alleles were detected in 12 populations, and the average genetic diversity of each population ranged from 0.2517 to 0.4965, indicating substantial variation within populations. Among the 12 populations, three had flowers of colors other than yellow, indicating introgression before seed collection. These three populations grew in a more erect manner and clustered into a sub-group for phenotypic distance. Regression analysis showed no relationship between genetic distance and phenotypic distance. Latitude, longitude and altitude of origin were not correlated with genetic distance among populations,
while altitude had a correlation with phenotypic distance among these populations (p < 0.0001).