Utilization of Molecular, Phenotypic, and Geographical Diversity to Develop Compact Composite Core Collection in the Oilseed Crop, Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) through Maximization Strategy
Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) is a dryland oilseed crop yielding high quality edible oil. Previous studies have described significant phenotypic variability in the crop and used geographical distribution and phenotypic trait values to develop core collections. However, the molecular diversity component was lacking in the earlier collections thereby limiting their utility in breeding programs. The present study evaluated the phenotypic variability for 12 agronomically important traits during two growing seasons (2011–12 and 2012–13) in a global reference collection of 531 safflower accessions, assessed earlier by our group for genetic diversity and population structure using AFLP markers. Significant phenotypic variation was observed for all the agronomic traits in the representative collection. Cluster analysis of phenotypic data grouped the accessions into five major clusters. Accessions from the Indian Subcontinent and America harbored maximal phenotypic variability with unique characters for a few traits. MANOVA analysis indicated significant interaction between genotypes and environment for both the seasons. Initially, six independent core collections (CC1–CC6) were developed using molecular marker and phenotypic data for two seasons through POWERCORE and MSTRAT. These collections captured the entire range of trait variability but failed to include complete genetic diversity represented in 19 clusters reported earlier through Bayesian analysis of population structure (BAPS). Therefore, we merged the three POWERCORE core collections (CC1–CC3) to generate a composite core collection, CartC1 and three MSTRAT core collections (CC4–CC6) to generate another composite core collection, CartC2. The mean difference percentage, variance difference percentage, variable rate of coefficient of variance percentage, coincidence rate of range percentage, Shannon’s diversity index, and Nei’s gene diversity for CartC1 were 11.2, 43.7, 132.4, 93.4, 0.47, and 0.306, respectively while the corresponding values for CartC2 were 9.3, 58.8, 124.6, 95.8, 0.46, and 0.301. Each composite core collection represented the complete range of phenotypic and genetic variability of the crop including 19 BAPS clusters.