Leaves of 28 genotypes of 4 species of the genus Asparagus, namely: Asparagus racemosus, Asparagus falcatus, Asparagus officinalis and Asparagus plumosus were analyzed for genetic diversity by random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD). Out of one hundred 10-mer RAPD primers screened, 25 were selected for comparative analysis of different accessions of A. racemosus and its closely related species. High genetic variations were found between the different Asparagus species studied. Among a total of 296 RAPD fragments amplified, 287 bands (96.95%) were found polymorphic in the four species. Average polymorphic information content (PIC) value for the amplification product was 0.23. Fourteen species-specific bands were found in A. racemosus species. These species-specific RAPD markers could potentially be used for identifying authentic A. racemosus spp. and could be sequenced for conversion to a sequence-characterized amplified region (SCAR) marker so as to serve as species specific marker. Jaccard’s genetic similarity co-efficient varied from 0.19 to 0.85. The unweighted pair group method with arithmetic average (UPGMA) dendrogram was constructed on the basis of Jaccard’s genetic similarity co-efficient values that separate the three other species of Asparagusfrom A. racemosus accessions. Results of this study will facilitate authentic A. racemosusidentification, thereby aiding drug standardization, its collection, management and conservation.
Key words: Medicinal herb, genetic diversity, molecular marker, authentication, conservation.
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