Agro-morphological characterization of lentil germplasm of Indian National Genebank and Development of a core set for efficient utilization in lentil improvement programs

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Lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.) is one of the major cool-season pulse crops worldwide. Its increasing demand as a staple pulse has led to the unlocking of diverse germplasm collections conserved in the genebanks to develop its superior varieties.

The Indian National Genebank, housed at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)-National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, New Delhi, India, currently has 2,324 accessions comprising 1,796 indigenous and 528 exotic collections. This study was conducted to unveil the potential of lentil germplasm by assessing its agro-morphological characteristics and diversity, identifying trait-specific germplasm, and developing a core set. The complete germplasm set was characterized for two years, i.e., 2017-2018 and 2018-2019, and data were recorded on 26 agro-morphological traits. High phenotypic variability was observed for nine quantitative and 17 qualitative traits. A core set comprising 170 accessions (137 Indian and 33 exotic) was derived based on the characterization data as well as geographical origin using a heuristic method and PowerCore software. This core set was found to be sufficiently diverse and representative of the entire collection based on the comparison made using Shannon-Weaver diversity indices and χ2 test. These results were further validated by summary statistics.

The core set displayed high genetic diversity as evident from a higher coefficient of variance in comparison to the entire set for individual traits and overall Shannon-Weaver diversity indices (entire: 1.054; core: 1.361). In addition, the total variation explained by the first three principal components was higher in the core set (70.69%) than in the entire collection (68.03%). Further, the conservation of pairwise correlation values among descriptors in the entire and core set reflected the maintenance of the structure of the whole set. Based on the results, this core set is believed to represent the entire collection, completely. Therefore, it constitutes a potential set of germplasm that can be used in the genetic enhancement of lentils.

Tripathi, K.; Kumari, J.; Gore, P.G.; Mishra, D.C.; Singh, A.K.; Mishra, G.P.; Gayacharan, C.; Dikshit, H.K.; Singh, N.; Semwal, D.P.; Mehra, R.; Bhardwaj, R.; Bansal, R.; Rana, J.C.; Kumar, A.; Gupta, V.; Singh, K.; Sarker, A.

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