RAPD polymorphism of the white-flowered gourd (Lagenaria siceraria (Molina) Standl. landraces and its wild relatives in kenya

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The present study was performed to investigate genetic diversity of Kenyan landraces of the white-flowered gourd (Lagenaria siceraria), which exhibits tremendous morphological variation. RAPD analyses were performed on 53 landraces of the cultivated species L. siceraria and 42 accessions of three wild species (40 L. sphaerica, 1 L. abyssinica, and 1 L. breviflora). A total of 432 polymorphic bands were detected using 54 primers. The four species were clearly differentiated from one another. Intra-specific variations were investigated with L. siceraria and its wild relative L. sphaerica. Landraces of the cultivated species collected from different ethnic communities or regions were differentiated. Morphological variations were not associated with RAPD variations. Bitter landraces collected in Maasai communities showed two specific RAPD bands. In the wild species, accessions collected from the eastern and western sides of the Great Rift Valley were genetically differentiated from each other. In both species, genetic and geographical distance matrices computed among all pairs of accessions were significantly correlated, implying that the observed geographical variation can be explained by the ‘Isolation by distance model’. Progeny plants derived from a common mother in L. siceraria showed a low level of segregation in RAPD pattern, suggesting that collected landraces are cultivated, maintaining their inherent traits although they are monoecious and insect-pollinated, whereas the wild relative L. sphaerica showed a higher level of segregation. The morphological diversity observed among landraces of L. siceraria is the result of human selection and their genetic identities are maintained by inbreeding probably resulting from frequent self-pollination.

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