The genetic structure and variability was described among 52 oil palm inter-population crosses after two selection cycles using simple sequence repeats markers (SRR). The 10 sets of SSR markers covering 62.5% of the oil palm genome showed a high level of polymorphism (average number of alleles per locus = 6.7; unbiased expected heterozygosity = 0.655; G”st = 0.346) across the oil palm samples. On the basis of allelic variability indices, three genetically diverse progenies (P1, P2 and P5) with estimates higher than the overall mean values were identified. Analysis of molecular variance revealed that partitioning of variance was higher (82%) among palms within each progeny than among the progenies (18%). High pairwise fixation index (FST > 0.150) among progenies was evident, particularly between progeny P4 and progenies P1, P2 and P3. Crossing of selected palms from highly differentiated progenies could generate offsprings with more genetic variation. The mean Nei's standard genetic distance across progenies was 0.364. The lowest genetic distance was observed between progeny P2 and P5 (0.090) and the highest was found between progeny P1 and P4 (0.653). Based on the results, there is ample variation among the inter-population progenies for maximum exploitation of heterosis and further gains in future breeding programme.
Key words: Elaeis guineensis Jacq., microsatellite markers, NIFOR, reciprocal recurrent selection.
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