Morphological (foliar features) and molecular (DNA fingerprinting) markers were used to characterize sexual dimorphism in Telfairia occidentalis Hook. f. (Cucurbitaceae). A total of thirty strains comprising fifteen males and fifteen females from market-sourced fruits bred to the third generation were used for the investigation. The amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) technique was combined with silver staining to determine the level of DNA polymorphism in the strains. Results showed that the females were generally larger in size than the males in leaf morphological features, while DNA fingerprints revealed the existence of polymorphism in the plant. However, this genetic variability did not clearly correspond with presence of sexual dimorphism in the species. The implications of these results in understanding the genetics, breeding and conservation of the plant’s germplasm are discussed.
Key words: Leaf morphology, DNA fingerprinting, sexual dimorphism.
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