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Preserving biodiversity in marginal rural areas: Assessment of morphological and genetic variability of a sicilian common bean germplasm collection

  • Authors: Fiore M.C.; Raimondo F.M.; Mercati F.; Digangi I.; Sunseri F.; Scialabba A.
  • Publication year: 2020
  • Type: Articolo in rivista
  • OA Link:


The historical cultivation of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) has resulted in the development of local populations/cultivars in restricted Italian rural areas. Many common bean landraces, still cultivated in small mountain areas from Sicily, have become outdated and endangered due to the commercial varieties spreading. These accessions are poorly known but often represent a genetic heritage to be preserved and enhanced. The ex situ conservation of fifty-seven Sicilian common bean landraces was carried out at the “Living Plants Germplasm Bank” at Ucria (Messina, Italy), founded by the Nebrodi Regional Park, together with the “Sicilian Plant Germplasm Repository” of University of Palermo (SPGR/PA). To assess the germplasm genetic diversity, nineteen morphological traits and eight Simple Sequence Repeats (SSRs) were used. Genetic distances among landraces were calculated to construct a clustering tree by using unweighted pair group method arithmetic (UPGMA). Seed germplasm diversity of Sicilian common bean varied from 80.7% to 93.3%, based on six seed descriptors and six leaf, flower, and pod descriptors, respectively, while cluster genetic analysis depicted a clear separation among all the 57 landraces. Principal coordinates (PCoA) and STRUCTURE analyses showed a prevalent rate of admixture between Mesoamerican and Andean gene pools in Sicilian common bean collection, confirming its heterogeneity. The observed high level of diversity evidenced the needs to adopt accurate criterion to plan a definitive ex situ germplasm collection to share agrobiodiversity with local farmers and to avoid any further loss of genetic resources in rural and protected areas.