Morphological Variation in the Wild-Weedy Complex of Sorghum bicolor In Situ in Western Kenya: Preliminary Evidence of Crop-to-Wild Gene Flow?

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2012-01-01
Authors
Okeno, James
Mutegi, Evans
Misra, Manjit
de Villiers, Santie
Wolt, Jeffrey
Misra, Manjit
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering
Abstract

Crop wild relatives are important components of agroecosystems and have over the years been exploited in breeding programs as sources of genes for novel traits. Information on the extent and patterns of variability is important in formulating effective conservation and utilization strategies for existing crop wild relative populations. We conducted surveys and collections of wild and weedy accessions of Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench in Lambwe Valley in western Kenya in order to investigate occurrence, distribution, and morphological variability in the wild-weedy complex of S. bicolor under local agroecological conditions. We also attempted to understand the role, if any, of crop-to-wild gene flow in structuring variability within and among populations. The morphological data presented here showed wide variability within wild-weedy sorghum populations with respect to habitats and morphotypes. True wild sorghum populations in national parks and the sugarcane belt were clearly distinguishable from the putative hybrids or intermediate forms found in sorghum fields, in sorghum field margins, and, to some extent, by the roadside near sorghum fields. The existence of these intermediate forms is empirical evidence of introgression between cultivated sorghum and its wild-weedy relatives. Extensive introgression, especially within in situ conservation areas and/or in areas of high diversity, would lead to genetic erosion and possible depletion of these important wild sorghum genetic resources.

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This article is from International Journal of Plant Sciences 173 (2012): 507–515, doi:10.1086/665266. Posted with permission.

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