Evaluating diversity among Kenyan papaya germplasm using simple sequence repeat markers
Papaya is an important fruit crop, produced in Kenya for local consumption and export. Despite a history of varietal introductions, no attempts concerned on developing varieties suited to Kenyan conditions have been documented. The objective of this study was to provide information on the diversity of germplasm available in Kenya, as a precursor to systematic plant breeding program. Forty two papaya accessions were collected from farmers’ fields located in Coast, Rift Valley, Western, Nyanza, Central and Eastern provinces. Genetic diversity was determined using seven simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers, computing allelic richness and frequency, expected heterozygosity and cluster analysis. Results indicated that the
markers were highly polymorphic among the accessions, with polymorphic
information content (PIC) varying from 0.75 to 0.852 with an average of 0.81. The genetic similarity among the 42 papaya accessions ranged from 0.764 to 0.932 with an average of 0.844 showing that most papaya accessions used in this study were closely related. About 96.9% of the pair-wise comparisons among papaya accessions exhibited genetic similarity greater than 0.802, while less than 4% (3.1%) showed genetic similarity lower than 0.802. The phylogenetic analysis grouped the 42
accessions into two main clusters A and B. Cluster A had four sub-clusters while cluster B had one cluster. Accessions from Coast, and some from Rift Valley Provinces, presented the highest variation, being scattered throughout the tree, with little or no differentiation from most accessions, whereas some accessions from Coast regrouped in clusters A (iv) and B. The genetic differences among the accessions revealed by the formation of distinct clusters suggest significant genetic variability emanation from varying sources of the papaya germplasm in Kenya. Although the level of genetic diversity revealed by SSR markers in this study is sufficient to
distinguish between breeding lines for varietal protection, the rather narrow genetic diversity demonstrated indicates the need to introduce new germplasm or use other techniques such as mutation and genetic engineering to provide breeding materials for the future improvement of papaya in Kenya.
Key words: Kenya, papaya, genetic diversity.
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