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Diversity of threatened local mango landraces on smallholder farms in Eastern Kenya

Gitahi, Robert, Kasili, Remmy, Kyallo, Martina, Kehlenbeck, Katja
Forests, trees and livelihoods 2016 v.25 no.4 pp. 239-254
breeding programs, color, cultivars, farmers, fruits, genetic variation, landraces, leaves, mangoes, microsatellite repeats, phylogeny, plant genetic resources, small farms, variance, Kenya
Mango fruits are highly nutritious and economically important to Kenyan farmers, who cultivate three categories of cultivars/landraces; local small-fruited, local big-fruited and improved, introduced cultivars. The small-fruited landraces are said to be well adapted to the local environment but are being replaced by introduced cultivars before their diversity has been documented. This study aimed at assessing morphological and genetic diversity of 36 local mango landraces from 35 randomly selected farms in Eastern Kenya. Fruits were collected from three locations for morphological characterization using the ‘Descriptors for Mango’ of the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute. Leaves of the same accessions were sampled for genetic diversity assessment using microsatellites. Morphological characterization showed that mean fruit length was 5.6–12.5 cm, while mean fruit weight was 93–578 g. Fruit shape was mostly ‘roundish’, while fruit ground colour ‘green’. Hierarchical cluster analysis with seven discriminant morphological variables resulted in four clusters. Analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) indicated that variation was high (97%) among, but low (3%) within groups. Phylogenetic analysis using Neighbor Joining method resulted in three clusters that lacked consistency with the morphological clusters. Findings from this study may assist to select superior local mango accessions for future breeding programmes and to develop ‘conservation through use’ strategies for Kenyan local mangoes to retain their valuable genetic resources.