Common Vetch, Valuable Germplasm for Resilient Agriculture: Genetic Characterization and Spanish Core Collection Development.
Common vetch (Vicia sativa L.) is a legume used for animal feed because of its high protein content and great capacity for nitrogen fixation, making this crop relevant in sustainable agriculture. The Spanish vetch collection, conserved at the Spanish Plant Genetic Resources Center (CRF), is one of the largest collections of this species worldwide, including landraces, wild relatives mainly collected in Spain, and commercial cultivars, but also accessions of international origin. The analysis of the genetic diversity of this material, whose genome has not been sequenced yet, and the assembly of a representative collection could play a pivotal role in conserving and exploiting these genetic resources in breeding programs mainly in those focused on consequences and demands of climate change. In this work, a set of 14 simple sequence repeat (SSR) reference alleles for genetic diversity analysis of the CRF vetch collection has been developed, used for genotyping more than 545 common vetch accessions from all over the world and validated. All the tested markers were polymorphic for the analyzed accessions. Overall, at least 86 different loci were identified with 2-11 alleles per locus with an average of 6.1 alleles per locus. Also, the analyses of the generated SSR database support that most of these SSR markers are transferable across closely related species of Vicia genus. Analysis of molecular variance revealed that wild relatives have a higher genetic diversity than landraces. However, cultivars have similar diversity than landraces, indicating that genetic variability has been barely lost due to the breeding of this legume. Low differences of genetic variations between Spanish and non-Spanish accessions have been observed, suggesting a high degree of diversity within Spanish genotypes, which provide 95% of the total genetic variation, so we have focused our efforts on characterizing genotypes of Spanish origin that were further studied using storage protein profiles. Based on SSR, seed protein profiles, and agromorphological and passport data, a vetch core collection (VCC) containing 47 V. sativa accessions of Spanish origin has been established. In this collection, the characterization has been expanded using ISSR markers, and it has been reevaluated with new agromorphological data, including drought tolerance characters. This VCC presents a minimum loss of genetic diversity concerning the total collection and constitutes an invaluable material that can be used in future breeding programs for direct use in a resilient agricultural system.
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