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Genetic analysis of a heritage variety collection

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 December 2018

J. M. Preston*
NIAB, Huntingdon Road, Cambridge, CB3 0LE, UK
B. V. Ford-Lloyd
School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK
L. M. J. Smith
NIAB, Huntingdon Road, Cambridge, CB3 0LE, UK
R. Sherman
Garden Organic, Ryton Organic Gardens, Coventry, Warwickshire, CV8 3LG, UK
N. Munro
Garden Organic, Ryton Organic Gardens, Coventry, Warwickshire, CV8 3LG, UK
N. Maxted
School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK
*Corresponding author. E-mail:


Landraces (including heritage varieties) are an important agrobiodiversity resource offering considerable value as a buffer against crop failures, as a crop for niche markets, and as a source of diversity for crop genetic improvement activities underpinning future food security. Home gardens are reservoirs of landrace diversity, but some of the accessions held in them are vulnerable or threatened with extinction. Those associated with seed saving networks have added security, for example, ca. 800 varieties are stored in the Heritage Seed Library (HSL) of Garden Organic, UK. In this study, Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphisms-based genetic analysis of accessions held in the HSL was used to (a) demonstrate the range of diversity in the collection, (b) characterize accessions to aid collection management and (c) promote broader use of the collection. In total, 171 accessions were included from six crops: Vicia faba L., Pisum sativum L., Daucus carota L., Cucumis sativus L., Lactuca sativa L. and Brassica oleracea L. var. acephala (DC.) Metzq. Average expected heterozygosity ranged from 0.18 to 0.28 in D. carota; 0.02–0.18 in P. sativum; 0.05–0.18 in L. sativa; 0.15–0.26 in B. oleracea var. acephala; 0.15–0.37 in C. sativus and 0.07–0.36 in V. faba. Genetic diversity and Fst values generally reflected the breeding system and cultivation history of the different crops. Comparisons of the diversity found in heritage varieties with that found in commercial varieties did not show a consistent pattern. Principal coordinates analysis and Unweighted Pair Group Method with Arithmetic Mean cluster analysis were used to identify four potential duplicate accession pairs.

Research Article
Copyright © NIAB 2018 

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