Diversity assessment of vanilla (Vanilla species) in Kenya is a key strategy for germplasm conservation and improvement. Production of vanilla crop in Kenya is limited due to inadequate knowledge on genetic diversity. This study was carried out to characterize 76 vanilla accessions from five counties of Kenya using 14 microsatellite DNA markers. POPGENE version 1.32 was used to compute variety factors. Amplicons ranged between 1 and 4. A total of 27 (96.43%) alleles were observed and their number ranged from 1.00 to 2.00 with a mean of 1.93. Effective allele values ranged from 1.00 to 1.99 with a mean of 1.63. Gene diversity ranged from 0 to 0.50 with a mean of 0.35, mean Shannon information index was 0.50 and Polymorphic information content values ranged from 0 to 0.38 with a mean of 0.35. Jaccard’s similarity coefficient ranged from 0.08 to 1.00 with an average of 0.54. Unrooted phylogenetic tree was constructed in DARwin 6.0.8 using Unweighted Pair Group Method with Arithmetic Mean, clustering the samples into 3 main clusters (A 99.6%, B 98.96% and C 100%) and 6 sub-clusters (A1, A2, B1, B2, B3 and C1). Vanilla accessions grown in Kenya have a broad genetic background but low genetic diversity. Results inform the need to introduce other vanilla species as sources of genetic variation for breeding.
Key words: Genetic variation, DNA markers, breeding, Kenya.
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