Genetic diversity is the material basis for crop improvement. The genetic diversity of 17 wheat genotypes was evaluated using 25 agro-morphological characters and 10 simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers. The objective of this study was to determine the genetic diversity of elite stem rust resistant mutant lines in comparison with their adaptable but susceptible parent varieties using morphological traits and molecular markers. The results obtained showed significant variation in morphological traits and molecular makers existed. Morphological diversity between mutant lines and their parent varieties was mainly separated by grain yield per spike, 1000 grain weight and maturity time period. The dendrogram based on 10 SSR markers grouped the 17 genotypes into three major clusters and six sub-clusters with mutants clustering with their respective parents. 10 SSR primer pairs yielded 13 polymorphic loci with a percentage of 92.86%. The mean number of alleles per locus in each group was 2.0 and the mean number of polymorphic alleles per locus was 1.9286. The gene diversity ranged from 0 to 0.4893 for each sample. Results showed it is possible to classify genetic diversity of elite wheat genotypes and select them for the highest genetic diversity. The results can be used in selecting diverse parents in breeding programs and also in maintaining genetic variation in the germplasm.
Key words: Genetic diversity, molecular markers, morphological traits, wheat.
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