Tylosema esculentum (marama) has long been identified as a candidate crop for arid and semi-arid environments due to its success in these environments and the high nutritional value of the seed. Molecular markers are essential for the assessment of the levels of genetic variation present within and between populations of marama as well for future marker-assisted breeding efforts. Microsatellites were isolated using a modified FIASCO enrichment technique. Eighty pairs of primers were designed to amplify across a selected set of perfect microsatellite repeats with greater than 5 repeat units. Of the 80 primer pairs screened, 76% were able to detect polymorphism and 21% gave monomorphic bands while the other 3% gave inconsistent results. Four of the polymorphic SSR’s were used for genetic variation analysis and have proved to be useful and informative markers for assessing intra-specific and inter-specific variability of marama bean. Heterozygosity (H) within and between populations of marama bean in the Namibian germplasm ranged from 0.30 to 0.74. Some of the populations had low genetic variation while others had high genetic variation.
Key words: Tylosema esculentum, microsatellites, FIASCO, polymorphism, genetic variation, heterozygosity.
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