Ginseng (Panax ginseng
C.A. Meyer), commonly known as Korean or Asian ginseng, is a perennial herb native to Korea and China. There has been limited research effort to analyze the genetic diversity and population structure of ginseng germplasm because of its growth habits. In the present study, genetic diversity and population structure of ginseng germplasm conserved in the National Agrobiodiversity Center (NAC) of South Korea were analyzed to provide basic data for future preservation and breeding of ginseng genetic resources. Seventeen simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers were used to assess the genetic diversity and population structure of 1109 ginseng accessions. Among 1109 ginseng accessions, 1042 (94.0%) accessions were landraces and 66 (6.0%) accessions were breeding lines (61 accessions, 5.5%) or cultivars (5 accessions, 0.5%). SSR markers revealed 56 different alleles with an average of 3.29 alleles per locus. The average gene diversity was 0.49. Analysis of molecular variance showed that 91% of allelic diversity was attributed to individual accessions within clusters while only 9% was distributed among clusters. Using discriminant analysis of principal components, 12 clusters were detected in 1109 ginseng accessions. The results of this study provide molecular evidence for the narrow genetic base of ginseng germplasm in NAC. For the broad understanding and efficient use of ginseng germplasm, it is necessary to analyze functional factors and to evaluate morphological traits.
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