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Genetic diversity among tea cultivars from China, Japan and Kenya revealed by ISSR markers and its implication for parental selection in tea breeding programmes

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Tea plant [Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Kuntze] is an important beverage crop in the world. In recent years many clonal tea cultivars have been released, and they play major roles in improving the production and quality of tea. It is important to understand the genetic diversity and relatedness of these cultivars to avoid inbreeding and narrow genetic basis in future tea breeding. In the present study, genetic diversity and relationship of 48 tea cultivars from China, Japan and Kenya were evaluated by inter-simple sequence repeat (ISSR) markers. A total of 382 ISSR bands were scored, of which 381 (99.7%) were polymorphic. The ISSR primers showed high ability to distinguish between tea cultivars according to their high Resolving Power (RP) with an average of 7.4. The mean of Nei’s gene diversity (H) and Shannon’s information index (I) were 0.22 and 0.35, respectively. More abundant diversity was revealed among cultivars in China than those in Japan and Kenya. Within Chinese populations, the level of diversity in east China was higher than that in other regions. The coefficient of genetic differentiation (GST) was 0.202, which indicates a high degree of genetic variation within populations. This result was further confirmed by analysis of molecular variance, which revealed the variance component within the populations (92.07%) was obviously larger than that among populations (7.93%). The level of gene flow (Nm) was estimated to be 2.0. This could be explained by frequent natural cross-pollination and seed dispersal among tea populations. The pairwise similarity coefficient between the cultivars varied from 0.162 to 0.538. A dendrogram of 48 tea cultivars was constructed where all the tested cultivars were divided into two groups. Our data show that the genetic relationship among tea cultivars can be determined by the ISSR markers. This will provide valuable information to assist parental selection in current and future tea breeding programmes.
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Keywords: Camellia sinensis; genetic diversity; genetic relationship; inter-simple sequence repeat

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Tea Research Institute, Zhejiang University, 268 Kaixuan Road, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310029, China

Publication date: 01 April 2008

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