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Genetic characterization of cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) genotypes using agro-morphological and single nucleotide polymorphism markers

Dearth of information on extent of genetic variability in cassava limits the genetic improvement of cassava genotypes in Sierra Leone. The aim of this study was to assess the genetic diversity and relationships within 102 cassava genotypes using agro-morphological and single nucleotide polymorphism markers. Morphological classification based on qualitative traits categorized the germplasm into five different groups, whereas the quantitative trait set had four groups. The SNP markers classified the germplasm into three main cluster groups. A total of seven principal components (PCs) in the qualitative and four PCs in the quantitative trait sets accounted for 79.03% and 72.30% of the total genetic variation, respectively. Significant and positive correlations were observed between average yield per plant and harvest index (r = 0.76***), number of storage roots per plant and harvest index (r = 0.33*), height at first branching and harvest index (0.26*), number of storage roots per plant and average yield per plant (r = 0.58*), height at first branching and average yield per plant (r = 0.24*), length of leaf lobe and petiole length (r = 0.38*), number of leaf lobe and petiole length (r = 0.31*), width of leaf lobe and length of leaf lobe (r = 0.36*), number of leaf lobe and length of leaf lobe (r = 0.43*), starch content and dry matter content (r = 0.99***), number of leaf lobe and root dry matter (r = 0.30*), number of leaf lobe and starch content (r = 0.28*), and height at first branching and plant height (r = 0.45**). Findings are useful for conservation, management, short term recommendation for release and genetic improvement of the crop.