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Genetic structure and diversity of indigenous rice (Oryza sativa) varieties in the Eastern Himalayan region of Northeast India

Baharul Choudhury12*, Mohamed Latif Khan3 and Selvadurai Dayanandan12

Author Affiliations

1 Forest and Evolutionary Genomics Laboratory, and Centre for Structural and Functional Genomics, Biology Department, Concordia University, 7141 Sherbrooke St. West, Montreal, Quebec H4B 1R6, Canada

2 Québec Centre for Biodiversity Sciences, Montréal, QC, Canada

3 Department of Forestry, North Eastern Regional Institute of Science & Technology, NIRJULI, Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh 791109, India

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SpringerPlus 2013, 2:228  doi:10.1186/2193-1801-2-228

Published: 19 May 2013


The Eastern Himalayan region of Northeast (NE) India is home to a large number of indigenous rice varieties, which may serve as a valuable genetic resource for future crop improvement to meet the ever-increasing demand for food production. However, these varieties are rapidly being lost due to changes in land-use and agricultural practices, which favor agronomically improved varieties. A detailed understanding of the genetic structure and diversity of indigenous rice varieties is crucial for efficient utilization of rice genetic resources and for developing suitable conservation strategies. To explore the genetic structure and diversity of rice varieties in NE India, we genotyped 300 individuals of 24 indigenous rice varieties representing sali, boro, jum and glutinous types, 5 agronomically improved varieties, and one wild rice species (O. rufipogon) using seven SSR markers. A total of 85 alleles and a very high level of gene diversity (0.776) were detected among the indigenous rice varieties of the region. Considerable level of genetic variation was found within indigenous varieties whereas improved varieties were monoporphic across all loci. The comparison of genetic diversity among different types of rice revealed that sali type possessed the highest gene diversity (0.747) followed by jum (0.627), glutinous (0.602) and boro (0.596) types of indigenous rice varieties, while the lowest diversity was detected in agronomically improved varieties (0.459). The AMOVA results showed that 66% of the variation was distributed among varieties indicating a very high level of genetic differentiation in rice varieties in the region. Two major genetically defined clusters corresponding to indica and japonica groups were detected in rice varieties of the region. Overall, traditionally cultivated indigenous rice varieties in NE India showed high levels of genetic diversity comparable to levels of genetic diversity reported from wild rice populations in various parts of the world. The efforts for conservation of rice germplasm in NE India should consider saving rice varieties representing different types with specific emphasis given to sali and jum types. The protection against the loss of vast genetic diversity found in indigenous rice varieties in NE India is crucial for maintaining future food security in the changing world.

Conservation; Eastern Himalaya; Genetic diversity; Genetic structure; Indigenous rice varieties; NE India