Morpho-agronomic Classification of Some Native and Exotic Finger Millet (Eleusine coracana L.) Germplasm Accessions in Ethiopia
Finger millet (Eleusine coracana L.) is one of the important indigenous crops of Africa. The productivity of the crop, however, is very low owing to several factors including the inherent low-yielding potential of the cultivars. Information on genetic diversity among the available germplasm collections is very useful for breeding programs utilizing the materials as germplasm source. An experiment was conducted at Arsi Negele and Bako, Ethiopia, in 2000 main season to study the extent of genetic variability present among sixty-four germplasm accessions collected from the Eastern and Southern Africa and maintained at the Institute of Biodiversity Conservation, Ethiopia. The accessions were planted in three replications at both locations using a randomized complete block design. Data were recorded on eleven morpho-agronomic characters. Analysis of variance at both locations showed that the mean squares due to genotype and genotype by location interaction were significant (P ≤ 0.05) in almost all the cases. Broad-sense heritability values at each location and combined over locations were higher (> 80%) for most of the characters, indicating the existence of a wealth of genetic variability among the population for most of the morpho-agronomic traits. Cluster analysis grouped the accessions into four clusters of different sizes. It appears that geographical origin has no or little effect in determining the pattern of genetic diversity observed among the accessions. The greatest variability among accessions was observed for characters such as biomass, ear weight and grain weight, which highly dictated the differentiation of accessions into clusters. Genetic distances between cluster IV and all other clusters were significant indicating that crosses between selection from members of cluster IV with the rest of the clusters may provide desirable recombinant in breeding efforts. Parental selection should also be based on the existence of optimum level of the desired traits.
Keywords: Eleusine coracana; Germplasm Collections; Genetic Diversity; Geographic Origin
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