Sweet potato (Ipomea batatas [L.] Lam.) is an economically important crop in East Africa chiefly grown by small holder farmers. Sharing of vines for planting is a very common occurrence among these farmers and eventually varieties are given local names, making it hard to trace the original pedigree. It is therefore important to characterise the sweet potato germplasm for purposes of breeding and germplasm conservation. In this study, 68 sweet potato accessions were evaluated for diversity using 12 microsatellite markers. The genetic relationship of the germplasm was evaluated using the Jaccard’s coefficient for dissimilarity analysis, unweighted pair group method with arithmetic means (UPGMA) tree and principal component analysis (PCoA) on DARwin software, while summary statistics was done using PowerMarker and Popgene softwares. The polymorphic information content of the markers ranged from 0.1046 for markers J67b and J67 to 0.3671 for marker J1809a, with a mean value of 0.2723. The total number of alleles amplified was 21. The major allele frequency ranged from 0.5882 for marker JB1809a to 0.9412 for markers J67b and J67c. Cluster analysis divided the accessions into four major clusters. Principle component analysis divided the accession into four groups which were different from those by cluster analysis. This study was able to identify several distinct accessions as well as a few possible duplicate accessions that overlapped on the cluster analysis.
Key words: Sweet potato, cluster analysis, genetic diversity, principal component analysis, Simple Sequence Repeats.
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