Evaluation of wild species of lentil for agro-morphological traits
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Most of the existing varieties of lentil (Lens culinaris ssp. culinaris) have been developed mainly through intraspecific hybridization and pureline selection leading to a narrow genetic base in cultivated populations. This makes them vulnerable to a number of biotic and abiotic stresses besides reducing their genetic potential due to lesser hidden variability. Distant hybridization involving wild accessions increases genetic variability and also helps in introgression of desirable genes rendering cultivated species more usable. Keeping this in view, wild accessions of lentil procured from ICARDA, Aleppo, Syria were established and evaluated under local conditions at IIPR, Kanpur. These comprised 88 accessions from Lens nigricans, L. culinaris ssp. odemensis, L. culinaris ssp. orientalis, L. culinaris ssp. tomentosus, L. ervoides, L. lamottei and unknown Lens spp. The results showed significant genetic variation among the wild accessions for all characters except cotyledon colour. PCA analysis of the morphological data resulted in clustering of 88 wild accessions into three groups and distinct position of each genotype was observed within each group. The first three most informative components in PCA analysis individually accounted for 89.35, 4.38 and 2.3% of total variation, respectively and collectively these explained about 95% of the total variability. While more traits and multilocation data need to be considered for getting more reliable results, in general L. ervoides was observed to possess useful traits like plant height, internode length and pods/cluster and therefore could be utilized for genetic improvement of cultivated lentil.