Development of STS and CAPS markers for variety identification and genetic diversity analysis of tea germplasm in Taiwan

Chih-Yi Hu, You-Zen Tsai, Shun-Fu Lin
Botanical Studies (Taipei, Taiwan) 2014, 55 (1): 12

BACKGROUND: Tea (Camellia sinensis) is an important economic crop in Taiwan. Particularly, two major commercial types of tea (Paochong tea and Oolong tea) which are produced in Taiwan are famous around the world, and they must be manufactured with specific cultivars. Nevertheless, many elite cultivars have been illegally introduced to foreign countries. Because of the lower cost, large amount of "Taiwan-type tea" are produced and imported to Taiwan, causing a dramatic damage in the tea industry. It is very urgent to develop the stable, fast and reliable DNA markers for fingerprinting tea cultivars in Taiwan and protecting intellectual property rights for breeders. Furthermore, genetic diversity and phylogenetic relationship evaluations of tea germplasm in Taiwan are imperative for parental selection in the cross-breeding program and avoidance of genetic vulnerability.

RESULTS: Two STS and 37 CAPS markers derived from cytoplasmic genome and ESTs of tea have been developed in this study providing a useful tool for distinguishing all investigated germplasm. For identifying 12 prevailing tea cultivars in Taiwan, five core markers, including each one of mitochondria and chloroplast, and three nuclear markers, were developed. Based on principal coordinate analysis and cluster analysis, 55 tea germplasm in Taiwan were divided into three groups: sinensis type (C. sinensis var. sinensis), assamica type (C. sinensis var. assamica) and Taiwan wild species (C. formosensis). The result of genetic diversity analysis revealed that both sinensis (0.44) and assamica (0.41) types had higher genetic diversity than wild species (0.25). The close genetic distance between the first (Chin-Shin-Oolong) and the third (Shy-Jih-Chuen) prevailing cultivars was found, and many recently released varieties are the descents of Chin-Shin-Oolong. This implies the potential risk of genetic vulnerability for tea cultivation in Taiwan.

CONCLUSIONS: We have successfully developed a tool for tea germplasm discrimination and genetic diversity analysis, as well as a set of core markers for effective identification of prevailing cultivars in Taiwan. According to the results of phylogenetic analysis on prevailing tea cultivars, it is necessary to broaden genetic diversity from wild species or plant introduction in future breeding programs.

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