Spatial and temporal dynamics in genetic diversity in upland rice and late millet (pennisetum glaucum (L.) R.Br.) in The Gambia

Nuijten, H.A.C.P.; Treuren, R. van


Ambiguity exists about the level of genetic diversity represented by farmer crop varieties, how it develops over time and how it relates to the diversity comprised by formal varieties. As part of an interdisciplinary technological/sociological study on farmer management of gene flow, upland rice (Oryza sativa L.) and late millet (Pennisetum glaucum (L.) R.Br.) from The Gambia were investigated for morphological and molecular variation. The goal of these analyses was to obtain insight into the level of crop genetic diversity of farmer┬┐s materials planted in several case study villages in The Gambia. For both crops, samples were collected from villages and various research institutes. Based on variety names, different rice and millet varieties were expected to be used in different villages. In fact, there was a large overlap in genetic diversity for both crops, masked by the use of synonyms. The considerable similarity in rice genetic diversity between villages most likely results from the exchange of varieties between farmers. For millet this seems the result of development of varieties from the same gene pool. Some farmer varieties of rice, however, are apparent hybrid forms between the species O. sativa and O. glaberrima Steud., and farmer varieties in general displayed higher levels of genetic diversity than formal varieties. This indicates that, for rice, genetic diversity develops in farmers┬┐ fields and may have potential use in formal breeding programs.