Thai elite cassava genetic diversity was fortuitously conserved through farming with different sets of varieties.
Fu, Y.B., Wangsomnuk, P.P., and Ruttawat, B. (2014). "Thai elite cassava genetic diversity was fortuitously conserved through farming with different sets of varieties.", Conservation Genetics, 15(6), pp. 1463-1478. doi : 10.1007/s10592-014-0631-y Access to full text
Many in situ conservation programs have been developed to preserve plant landrace diversity and to promote its sustainable utilization, but little is known about the effectiveness of the developed programs in conserving plant genetic diversity. We investigated the effectiveness of an unregulated (i.e., unplanned or open) conservation system maintained by Thai farmers in conserving Thai elite cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) varieties. Specifically, we compared genetic diversity of 266 cassava clones that were collected from 80 farms in eight provinces with 16 cassava landraces and varieties released since the 1970s through genotyping with 35 informative simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers. The SSR analysis revealed a large regional heterogeneity in cassava diversity, with a strong genetic differentiation of the assayed clones among the 80 farms (19.8 %) and across the eight provinces (11.8 %). Significant associations were also found between SSR variation and farm agro-ecological factors or some farming practices. However, there was no significant genetic differentiation (0.9 %) between the 266 farm clones and 16 reference varieties. These findings suggest that the Thai elite cassava genetic diversity was fortuitously conserved by the farmers through farming with different sets of varieties. Implications of these findings are discussed with respect to on-farm conservation of plant genetic resources.
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