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Article

Assessing the Genetic Diversity and Population Structure of a Tunisian Melon (Cucumis melo L.) Collection Using Phenotypic Traits and SSR Molecular Markers

1
Regional Research Centre on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture (CRRHAB/IRESA), LR21AGR03, University of Sousse, 4042 Sousse, Tunisia
2
National Gene Bank of Tunisia, Boulevard Leader Yasser Arafat, 1080 Tunis, Tunisia
3
Research Unit of Organic and Conventional Vegetable Crops UR13AGR03, High Institute of Agronomy of Chott Mariem, University of Sousse, 4042 Sousse, Tunisia
4
LICEF Research Center, TELUQ University, 5800 Rue Saint-Denis, Quebec, QC H2S3L5, Canada
5
Centro de Investigación y Tecnología Agroalimentaria de Aragón, Instituto Agroalimentario de Aragón-IA2 (CITA-Universidad de Zaragoza), 50059 Zaragoza, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editors: Gregorio Barba-Espín and Jose Ramon Acosta-Motos
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1121; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061121
Received: 23 April 2021 / Revised: 26 May 2021 / Accepted: 28 May 2021 / Published: 31 May 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Old Germplasm for New Needs: Managing Crop Genetic Resources)
The assessment of genetic diversity and structure of a gene pool is a prerequisite for efficient organization, conservation, and utilization for crop improvement. This study evaluated the genetic diversity and population structure of 24 Tunisian melon accessions, by using 24 phenotypic traits and eight microsatellite (SSR) markers. A considerable phenotypic diversity among accessions was observed for many characters including those related to agronomical performance. All the microsatellites were polymorphic and detected 30 distinct alleles with a moderate (0.43) polymorphic information content. Shannon’s diversity index (0.82) showed a high degree of polymorphism between melon genotypes. The observed heterozygosity (0.10) was less than the expected heterozygosity (0.12), displaying a deficit in heterozygosity because of selection pressure. Molecular clustering and structure analyses based on SSRs separated melon accessions into five groups and showed an intermixed genetic structure between landraces and breeding lines belonging to the different botanical groups. Phenotypic clustering separated the accessions into two main clusters belonging to sweet and non-sweet melon; however, a more precise clustering among inodorus, cantalupensis, and reticulatus subgroups was obtained using combined phenotypic–molecular data. The discordance between phenotypic and molecular data was confirmed by a negative correlation (r = −0.16, p = 0.06) as revealed by the Mantel test. Despite these differences, both markers provided important information about the diversity of the melon germplasm, allowing the correct use of these accessions in future breeding programs. Together they provide a powerful tool for future agricultural and conservation tasks. View Full-Text
Keywords: genetic diversity; breeding lines; landraces; phenotypic traits; molecular markers genetic diversity; breeding lines; landraces; phenotypic traits; molecular markers
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MDPI and ACS Style

Chikh-Rouhou, H.; Mezghani, N.; Mnasri, S.; Mezghani, N.; Garcés-Claver, A. Assessing the Genetic Diversity and Population Structure of a Tunisian Melon (Cucumis melo L.) Collection Using Phenotypic Traits and SSR Molecular Markers. Agronomy 2021, 11, 1121. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061121

AMA Style

Chikh-Rouhou H, Mezghani N, Mnasri S, Mezghani N, Garcés-Claver A. Assessing the Genetic Diversity and Population Structure of a Tunisian Melon (Cucumis melo L.) Collection Using Phenotypic Traits and SSR Molecular Markers. Agronomy. 2021; 11(6):1121. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061121

Chicago/Turabian Style

Chikh-Rouhou, Hela, Najla Mezghani, Sameh Mnasri, Neila Mezghani, and Ana Garcés-Claver. 2021. "Assessing the Genetic Diversity and Population Structure of a Tunisian Melon (Cucumis melo L.) Collection Using Phenotypic Traits and SSR Molecular Markers" Agronomy 11, no. 6: 1121. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061121

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