Morphological traits based genetic diversity assessment of Ethiopian potato [Plectranthus edulis (Vatke) Agnew] populations from Ethiopia

  • Fekadu GadissaEmail author
  • Kassahun Tesfaye
  • Kifle Dagne
  • Mulatu Geleta
Research Article


Ethiopian potato syno Ethiopian dinich [Plectranthus edulis (Vatke) Agnew], is one of the ‘orphans’ and ‘neglected’ indigenous edible tuber crops in the country. Nowadays, the crop, both the cultivated and wild forms, are close to total extinction partly because of climate change, habitat instability, and very little research intervention targeting its improvement and conservation. Hence, in the present study, we intended to generate baseline information through morphological traits based genetic diversity estimation that is useful for improvement and conservation actions. We tested 174 populations at three experimental locations using alpha lattice design with two replications/location and three blocks/replication/location following appropriate management practises. Data were recorded for 12 qualitative and 16 quantitative traits and analysed using Statistical analysis software 9.0, MINITAB® 14.13 and FigTree v1.4.3 packages. A wide range of variations and mean performance values have been recorded for the phenetic traits, suggesting the existence of considerable variations for use in breeding and conservation. Analysis of variance revealed a highly significant (p < 0.001) variation among the populations and non-significant environment-population interaction for most of the quantitative traits, implying the minimal environment effect on their expression. High genotypic coefficients of variation, coupled with a high estimate of broad sense heritability and high genetic advance as a percent of population mean, were observed in tuber weight per hill, number of primary branches per plant, tuber number per hill and number of plants per hill with eventually large magnitude of positive phenotypic and genotypic correlation with tuber yield per hectare. This result suggests importance of the traits in selection program that targets tuber yield improvement. Principal components analysis revealed about 77% of the total variation for the first six principal axes with high factor loadings again from the same traits. The populations were grouped into four clusters but weak region (zone) of origin-based pattern implying the historical or contemporary gene flow, specially germplasm (tubers) exchange among the regions (ethnicities). In general, there is high genetic-based variability for Ethiopian potato improvement and conservation. However, more collections and evaluation over multiple locations and seasons are recommended for well-refined genetic diversity estimation.


Morphological traits Cluster analysis Ethiopian potato Genetic diversity Variance components 



The authors would like to thank Addis Ababa University and Madda Walabu University for material and technical supports during field work, and individual farmers for allowing us to collect the tuber samples from their fields. We are also grateful to the Swedish Research Council (VR) for the financial support.


This work is financially supported by the Swedish Research Council (VR) through Swedish Research Link project and Addis Ababa University’s Thematic Research Project. The role of the funding bodies is limited to direct funding of the project activities during sample collections and field experiments that results in this manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 4 (DOCX 15 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyMadda Walabu UniversityBale RobeEthiopia
  2. 2.Department of Microbial, Cellular and Molecular BiologyAddis Ababa UniversityAddis AbabaEthiopia
  3. 3.Ethiopian Biotechnology Institute, Ministry of Science and TechnologyAddis AbabaEthiopia
  4. 4.Department of Plant BreedingSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesAlnarpSweden

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