Biodiversity in Ethiopian linseed (Linum usitatissimum L.): molecular characterization of landraces and some wild species

Molecular characterization of germplasm is important for sustainable exploitation of crops. DNA diversity was measured using inter-retrotransposon-amplified-polymorphism and inter-simple-sequence-repeat markers in 203 Ethiopian landraces and reference varieties of linseed (flax, Linum usitatissimum) and wild Linum species. Molecular diversity was high (PIC, 0.16; GD, 0.19) compared to other reports from the species. Genotyping separated reference from landrace accessions, and clustered landrace accessions from different altitudes and geographical regions. Collections showed evidence for recent introduction of varieties in some regions. The phylogeny supported L. bienne Mill. as the progenitor of domesticated L. usitatissimum. Markers developed here will be useful for genetic mapping and selection of breeding lines. The results show the range of characters that can be exploited in breeding lines appropriate for smallholder and commercial farmers in Ethiopia, producing a sustainable, secure, high-value crop meeting agricultural, economic and cultural needs.

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