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Background: Indian spinach is one of the important underexploited tropical leafy vegetables which have high nutritional and medicinal value. Molecular marker technology has greatly accelerated the process involved in breeding programs for the improvement of various crops and its techniques have been considered to be the most suitable means of estimating genetic diversity.
Aim: The study is to determine the genetic diversity among the accessions of Indian spinach collected from South western Nigeria using molecular markers.
Methodology: Random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) markers were used to assay 20 accessions of Indian spinach (Basella spp) collected from the south western states of Nigeria (Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Ondo and Ekiti).
Results: Results showed that RAPD markers were highly polymorphic and generated alleles ranging from two to eight. The polymorphic information content was highest for the OPT-17 primer (0.757) and the mean average was (4.23) Moreover, gene diversity (0.785) was high, and cluster analysis delineated the accessions into five groups, which indicated that a significant genetic diversity was present among the accessions studied. A dendrogram clustering method revealed five major clusters. Clusters I, II and IV had one accessions each, III had four and V had thirteen accessions.
Conclusion: The result revealed that RAPD markers are useful for genetic characterization as they provide information on the interspecific and phylogenetic statuses of the accessions. The markers also showed a genetic variability that could be exploited for varietal delineation and improvement of the vegetable in Nigeria.
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