Genetic diversity of landraces of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) from hilly areas of Uttaranchal, India

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Seed samples of 27 landraces of wheat were collected from farmers' fields of hilly areas of Himalaya in Uttaranchal state of India during April 2004. Genetic diversity among 41 genotypes (cultivars and landraces of wheat) was studied using morphological traits, microsatellite markers and SDS-PAGE of HMW-GS. The dendrogram and PCA (Principal Component Analysis) based on morphological data clearly separated landraces of wheat from cultivars. In the dendrogram based on microsatellite markers data all the wheat cultivars released after the introduction of high yielding dwarf wheat varieties from CIMMYT, used in this study, were grouped separately with the exception of NP4. The pre-green revolution indigenous varieties grouped with landraces suggesting that the same had been probably developed through selection among landraces in India. The landraces had higher diversity for HMW-glutenin subunits coded by Glu-B1, with distinct subunit combinations 6 + 8, 7 + 9, 13 + 16, than within the wheat cultivars analyzed. Most of the landraces except IITR10 and IITR14 are clearly distinct from the indigenous and modern wheat cultivars released in India in the 20th century. More than half of the landraces were heterogeneous mixture of plants with different glume color, awnness, grain color and HMW-GS profile and hence need purification through single plant selection. Some of the landraces with resistance to yellow rust and powdery mildew and distinct HMW-GS subunits can be used in appropriate breeding programs. It will be desirable to conserve and protect the landraces as geographical indications of Uttaranchal.

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