Genetic diversity in the foxtail millet (Setaria italica) germplasm as determined by agronomic traits and microsatellite markers

Heng Sheng Lin, Gwo Ing Liao, Chih Yun Chiang, Chang Sheng Kuoh, Song Bin Chang

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22 Citations (Scopus)


Setaria italica (L.) P. Beauv. is a model plant that attracts international attention, which is the second most widely cultivated species of millet, especially in East Asia. It has the longest history of cultivation among the millets, having been grown in China since sometime in the sixth millennium BC. It also has been a main crop of the indigenous people of Taiwan for a long time. However, insufficient researches had been conducted about the foxtail millet germplasm in Taiwan. To assess the genetic diversity of millet population, a total of 324 landraces of foxtail millet were collected from around Taiwan, and four years of field researches were conducted for agronomic traits observation. The genetic diversity of the millet population was measured using 33 agronomic traits and 40 microsatellite markers. Average number of alleles (2.4), highly polymorphic information content (PIC) (0.381), observed heterozygosity (0.190) and expected heterozygosity (0.354) were shown. Thirty-five SSR markers showed significant deviation from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium in 324 landraces and all these markers had low null allele frequencies. Analysis with the Unweighted Pair Group Method with Arithmetic Mean (UPGMA) method and Principal Component Analysis (PCA) revealed that the 324 landraces could be divided into three groups that coincided with the geographical areas, including northern Taiwan, central Taiwan, and sourthern Taiwan, which account for close relationship between crop distribution and human activities. Agronomical analyses with a plant height of 80.6 to 155.2 cm, spike length of 7.5 to 28.9 cm and growth periods of between 141 and 178 days had showed that there was enough variation to create promising lines for breeding programs. This study not only provides a complete foxtail millet germplasm from Taiwan but also demonstrates that the Taiwanese foxtail millets are very diverse and can be useful for selective breeding of specific traits and in enhancing the genetic base of breeding programs in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-349
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian Journal of Crop Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Feb 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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