Cassava (Manihot esculenta) is an important staple crop widely cultivated in Ghana. The crop also has diverse industrial applications including starch, beer and alcohol productions. Knowledge about the state of the Ghanaian cassava genetic diversity and population structure is paramount in breeding programmes aimed at cultivar improvements or breeding of new cultivars for specific purposes. This study focused on the use of 36 simple sequence repeats (SSRs) to produce SSR allelic polymorphisms for estimation of inter- and intra-population genetic diversity among Ghanaian cassava cultivars from five Ghanaian released and local cassava populations consisting of 11 released and two local cultivars. The results show high diversity among the studied cultivars with an average of seven (7) alleles per locus. Polymorphic loci varied from 68.6 to 100% with an average of 88.58%. A strong genetic diversity was observed within populations (HS =0.552) and therefore suggesting a low rate of inter-population gene flow among the individuals constituting the populations. This high genetic variability among the cultivars provides valuable genetic resource to support any future breeding programmes aimed at establishing new cassava varieties for domestic and industrial purposes.
Key words: Cassava, DNA fingerprinting, genetic diversity, simple sequence repeat (SSR).
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