Molecular marker-based genetic diversity analysis of scantly studied Brazilian accessions of a medicinal plant, Morinda citrifolia L. (noni).
Morinda citrifolia L., commonly known as noni, has been used for the treatment of various diseases for over two centuries. It was introduced and widely disseminated in Brazil because of its high market value and ease of adaptation to the soil and climatic conditions of the country. The aim of this study was to estimate the genetic variability of noni accessions from the collection of Embrapa Agroindústria Tropical in Brazil. We evaluated 36 plants of the 13 accessions of noni from the germplasm collection of M. citrifolia. Several methods of DNA extraction were tested. After definition of the method, the DNA of each sample was subjected to polymerase chain reactions using 20 random amplified polymorphic DNA primers. The band patterns on agarose gel were converted into a binary data matrix, which was used to estimate the genetic distances between the plants and to perform the cluster analyses. Of the total number of markers used in this study, 125 (81.1%) were polymorphic. The genetic distances between the genotypes ranged from 0.04 to 0.49. Regardless of the high number of polymorphic bands, the genetic variability of the noni plants evaluated was low since most of the genotypes belonged to the same cluster as shown by the dendrogram and Tocher's cluster analysis. The low genetic diversity among the studied noni individuals indicates that additional variability should be introduced in the germplasm collection of noni by gathering new individuals and/or by hybridizing contrasting individuals.