Research Article

Genetic diversity and morphological characterization of half-sib families of Heliconia bihai L., H. chartacea Lane ex Barreiros, and H. wagneriana Peterson

Published: June 20, 2016
Genet. Mol. Res. 15(2): gmr8003 DOI: 10.4238/gmr.15028003

Abstract

The Neotropical Heliconia genus contains highly diversified plants and up to 220 species have been reported from the north of Mexico to the South of Brazil. Heliconia are cultivated as ornamental garden plants and as cut flowers. All species can be propagated by seeds or vegetatively, through rhizomes. Depending on the species, an individual plant can spread and form large clonal populations. H. bihai L., H. chartacea Lane ex Barreiros, and H. wagneriana Petersen are among the most cultivated Heliconia species. However, they still have undesirable characteristics that could be improved for the international market. This study aimed to characterize 15 half-sib families originating from commercial cultivations, by morphological and molecular markers. The genetic diversity (ĤE), considering all individuals of the three species was 0.103. For H. bihai half-sib families, the value of ĤE was 0.242, showing high genetic diversity. The ĤE value for H. chartacea was 0.068, indicating low genetic diversity. All individuals of H. wagneriana showed the same band patterns, suggesting that the two parental plants were propagated vegetatively from the same plant and may have undergone some endogamic crossings. These results showed that molecular characterization can differentiate individuals closely related as half-siblings for H. bihai and H. chartacea, despite the low variation observed with morphological descriptors. The high genetic diversity observed in H. bihai half-sibling genotypes can provide valuable resources for breeding programs.

The Neotropical Heliconia genus contains highly diversified plants and up to 220 species have been reported from the north of Mexico to the South of Brazil. Heliconia are cultivated as ornamental garden plants and as cut flowers. All species can be propagated by seeds or vegetatively, through rhizomes. Depending on the species, an individual plant can spread and form large clonal populations. H. bihai L., H. chartacea Lane ex Barreiros, and H. wagneriana Petersen are among the most cultivated Heliconia species. However, they still have undesirable characteristics that could be improved for the international market. This study aimed to characterize 15 half-sib families originating from commercial cultivations, by morphological and molecular markers. The genetic diversity (ĤE), considering all individuals of the three species was 0.103. For H. bihai half-sib families, the value of ĤE was 0.242, showing high genetic diversity. The ĤE value for H. chartacea was 0.068, indicating low genetic diversity. All individuals of H. wagneriana showed the same band patterns, suggesting that the two parental plants were propagated vegetatively from the same plant and may have undergone some endogamic crossings. These results showed that molecular characterization can differentiate individuals closely related as half-siblings for H. bihai and H. chartacea, despite the low variation observed with morphological descriptors. The high genetic diversity observed in H. bihai half-sibling genotypes can provide valuable resources for breeding programs.