Genetic diversity and population structure of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) landraces from the East African highlands
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The East African highlands are a region of important common bean production and high varietal diversity for the crop. The objective of this study was to uncover the diversity and population structure of 192 landraces from Ethiopia and Kenya together with four genepool control genotypes using morphological phenotyping and microsatellite marker genotyping. The germplasm represented different common bean production ecologies and seed types common in these countries. The landraces showed considerable diversity that corresponded well to the two recognized genepools (Andean and Mesoamerican) with little introgression between these groups. Mesoamerican genotypes were predominant in Ethiopia while Andean genotypes were predominant in Kenya. Within each country, landraces from different collection sites were clustered together indicating potential gene flow between regions within Kenya or within Ethiopia. Across countries, landraces from the same country of origin tended to cluster together indicating distinct germplasm at the national level and limited gene flow between the two countries highlighting divided social networks within the regions and a weak trans-national bean seed exchange especially for landrace varieties. One exception to this may be the case of small red-seeded beans where informal cross-border grain trade occurs. We also observed that genetic divergence was slightly higher for the Ethiopian landraces compared to Kenyan landraces and that Mesoamerican genotypes were more diverse than the Andean genotypes. Common beans in eastern Africa are often cultivated in marginal, risk-prone farming systems and the observed landrace diversity should provide valuable alleles for adaptation to stressful environments in future breeding programs in the region.
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