U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government


Main content area

Measurements of Representativeness Used in Genetic Resources Conservation and Plant Breeding

Vencovsky, Roland, Crossa, Jose
Crop science 2003 v.43 no.6 pp. 1912-1921
alleles, genetic drift, genetic markers, inbreeding, parents, plant breeding, population size, recurrent selection, sampling, seeds, selfing
This paper reviews some measurements of representativeness such as the effective population size (N ₑ) useful in genetic resources conservation and plant breeding research. Some easy-to-use expressions for estimating N ₑ in a number of practical conditions are given. For the case of several subpopulations, N ₑ is scarcely influenced by the total inbreeding. Thus, N ₑ becomes mostly dependent on the allelic diversity among subpopulations and the number of subpopulations sampled. When, under natural conditions, levels of interpopulation allelic divergence are low, it is misleading to believe that a small number of subpopulations will be sufficient to attain adequate effective population sizes. When a single population is considered and seeds being sampled have a family structure, at the limit N ₑ depends only on the number of seed parents and the coancestry coefficient among sibs within families. Accession regeneration is the case where the reference population is of finite size. Gametic control is a major factor in regeneration. The loss of up to 20% of seeds may be recovered in terms of N ₑ when female gametic control is applied. This is not attainable with random sampling of seeds. When studying N ₑ in recurrent selection schemes, results showed that the gain in N ₑ through gametic control is very small when selection is intensive. When comparing effective population sizes for the single seed descent (SSD) method versus the bulk system, results showed that SSD maintains genetic drift at a low level and offers a much better protection against random loss of alleles during selfing generations. Estimating population parameters, through codominant genetic markers is fundamental for obtaining reliable estimates of effective population size.