Genetic diversity of a Paspalum notatum Flügge germplasm collection

ABSTRACT The objective of this study was to assess the genetic diversity among accessions of Paspalum notatum based on morphological marker traits and identify those morphological traits that contribute most to the variability among accessions. Fifty-three accessions were evaluated for the following traits: length, width, color, and pubescence of sheath; length, width, insertion angle, color of midrib, and pubescence of leaves; number, length, and angle of racemes; length of flowering stems; and plant growth habit (erect or prostrate). Multivariate analysis of the quantitative morphological data based on the Mahalanobis distance and UPGMA method grouped the accessions into 19 heterogeneous clusters. The relative contribution of each trait to cluster formation was obtained using the Singh method. Qualitative morphological traits were used to construct a dendrogram based on Jaccard's similarity, generating 13 clusters. Based on the morphological traits investigated, there is high genetic variation among accessions of P. notatum, demonstrating that these accessions have a good potential for a breeding program. Length of racemes, width of sheath, length of flowering stems, and length of leaves were found to contribute most to the variability among accessions. A number of traits contributed to a lesser degree. The set of characters used are representative of the vast phenotypic plasticity observed in P. notatum, a diversity which is likely to be related to the species apomictic form of reproduction and the origin of the accessions.