Genetic Diversity In Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal)
Genetic divergence among 40 ashwagandha accessions of different geographic origin was assessed using Mahalanobis D2 statistics. Observations revealed significant genotypic differences and accordingly genotypes were classified into six clusters. Cluster I was the largest with thirty genotypes followed by II and III clusters which have four and three genotypes, respectively. Cluster IV, V and VI contained only one most divergent genotype. The maximum inter-cluster distance (D=1538.09) was found between cluster II and VI, followed by that between II and III (D=983.03). The minimum inter-luster distance was observed between cluster Iand II (D=285.09). Theintra-cluster distance (D) ranged from 142.22 (cluster-III) to 192.10 (cluster-I). The three clusters (IV, V and VI) contained single genotype each and therefore, their intra-cluster distances were zero. The genotype of cluster VI was unique as it was having highest values for leaf width, diameter of root at collar region with high dry root yield. The cluster II was desirable in respect of days to flower initiation and days to maturity and also had highest value for number of primary branches per plant, withanoloide content and starch content. The cluster III exhibited highest value for plant height and leaf length. The cluster IV had highest mean values for number of secondary branches per plant and root length. Thus, hybridization among these genotypes can generate desirable transgressive segregants.
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