Multi-Level Characterization of Eggplant Accessions from Greek Islands and the Mainland Contributes to the Enhancement and Conservation of this Germplasm and Reveals a Large Diversity and Signatures of Differentiation between both Origins
Instituto de Conservación y Mejora de la Agrodiversidad Valenciana, Universitat Politècnica de València, Camino de Vera 14, 46022 Valencia, Spain
Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, 1-1-1 Tennodai, Tsukuba 3058572, Japan
Department of Agriculture, University of Patras, Theodoropoulou Terma, 27200 Amaliada, Greece
Department of Crop Science, University of Patras, Nea Ktiria, 30200 Mesolonghi, Greece
Department of Mathematics, University of Patras, University Campus, 26504 Patras, Greece
Department of Biology, University of Patras, University Campus, 26504 Patras, Greece
Institute of Plant Breeding and Genetic Resources, HAO-DEMETER, Thermi, 57001 Thessaloniki, Greece
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Agronomy 2019, 9(12), 887; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9120887
Received: 11 November 2019 / Revised: 10 December 2019 / Accepted: 11 December 2019 / Published: 13 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Analysis of Crop Genetic and Germplasm Diversity)
Crop landraces are found in many inhabited islands of Greece. Due to the particularity of environment and isolation from the mainland, Greek islands represent a natural laboratory for comparing the diversity of landraces from the islands with those of the Greek mainland. A collection of 36 Greek eggplant landraces and traditional cultivars from the mainland and the islands has been phenotypically and genetically characterized using 22 morphological descriptors and 5 SSR markers. The mineral composition (K, Mg, Cu, Fe, Mn, Zn) of fruits was also determined. The objectives of this study include the multi-level characterization of eggplant local landraces and the comparison of diversity among accessions from the Greek mainland and the islands. Characterization of eggplant landraces will contribute to the enhancement and prevention of genetic erosion in this local group and will provide a resource for future investigation and breeding. PCA analysis of morphological traits explained 45.4% of the total variance revealing the formation of two clusters, one with most of the island accessions, and another with most of the mainland ones. The SSR markers used exhibited high average values for the number of alleles/locus (4.6), expected heterozygosity (0.60) and PIC (0.55), while the observed heterozygosity was low (0.13). Both STRUCTURE and PCoA analyses based on SSR data revealed two genetic clusters, one made up mainly by the mainland accessions, while the other one was mainly made up by the island accessions. Although there was considerable variation among the landraces for the concentration of minerals studied, only average Mg concentration was significantly different between mainland and island accessions. Based on our data, the Greek eggplant landraces present considerable morphological and genetic diversity with some differentiation signatures between the island and the mainland accessions. Our results have implications for conservation of Greek landraces and suggest that Greece might be considered as part of a secondary center of diversity for eggplant in the Mediterranean basin.