The assessment of genetic diversity among improved crop germplasm can facilitate the expansion of the genetic base for crop improvement in breeding program. However, little effort has been made to assess the level of genetic relatedness among released varieties and elite soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] genotypes. The objective of this study was to determine the degree of genetic diversity that exists among released and elite soybean genotypes in Uganda. In this study, 21 polymorphic simple sequence repeat (SSR) molecular markers were used to determine the degree of genetic diversity and varietal identification among 34 soybean genotypes. A total of 59 alleles with an average of 2.85 alleles per locus were detected. The polymorphic information content (PIC) values ranged from 0.208 on BE806308 to 0.741 on Satt411, with an average of 0.5870. The expected heterozygosity varied from 0.208 on BE806308 to 0.725 on Satt411, with an average of 0.548 per marker. The dendrogram constructed based on Jaccard’s genetic similarities among 34 soybean genotypes identified three major clusters, with six of the released varieties belonging to cluster I. The majority of elite genotypes including three recently released cultivars; Maksoy 4N, Maksoy 5N and Maksoy 6N were grouped in cluster II and III. The results showed moderate genetic variation among the soybean genotypes, which could accelerate genetic vulnerability. Therefore, there is need to widen the genetic base of the working germplasm through the use of techniques such as pre-breeding and novel biotechnology techniques such as mutation breeding and CRISPR to create genetic variation necessary to cope with the dynamics of biotic and abiotic stresses that affect soybean production in Uganda.
Key words: Glycine max, genetic relationship, microsatellite or simple sequence repeat (SSR), molecular markers, genetic vulnerability.
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