W.S. Jansen van Rensburg, P. Shanahan, M.M. Greyling
Taro (Colocasia esculenta), known as amadumbe in South Africa, is traditionally cultivated in the coastal and subtropical areas of South Africa. The commercial potential of taro is being realised in South Africa with it being sold in some supermarkets. However, very little is known about the genetic diversity, introduction and movement of taro in South Africa. No registered cultivars exist in South Africa, only landraces, and no formal genetic improvement has been done. More information on the genetic diversity of taro is necessary before any genetic improvement can be attempted. Germplasm was collected in order to establish a representative collection. Germplasm was also imported from Nigeria. The germplasm collection (92 accessions) was characterised using simple sequence repeat (SSR) primers. Six primers sets resulted in a total of 52 scorable bands. The resulting profiles were scored as 1 for the presence of a band, or 0 indicating absence of a band. The data were analysed using PAUP, Phylip and ExcelStat to obtain a better understanding of the relationship between the different accessions. Cladograms were constructed using UPGMA cluster analysis. A high level of genetic diversity was observed within the South African germplasm, and three major clusters were identified in the cladogram. The accessions from the same locality did not always group together and some accessions collected from different provinces clustered together. Some of the local accessions clustered closer with the Nigerian accessions than with accessions from the same location. The results suggest that germplasm has and is being exchanged between farmers from different regions, and this is also supported by anecdotal information from farmers. The results indicated that further investigations on a molecular level are required to give a better understanding of the genetic diversity within the local taro germplasm and how it contrasts with foreign germplasm.
Jansen van Rensburg, W.S., Shanahan, P. and Greyling, M.M. (2013). MOLECULAR CHARACTERIZATION OF SOUTH AFRICAN TARO (COLOCASIA ESCULENTA) GERMPLASM USING SSR MARKERS. Acta Hortic. 979, 459-466
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2013.979.49
genetic diversity, taro, landraces, simple sequence repeats

Acta Horticulturae