Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution

, Volume 55, Issue 3, pp 365–378 | Cite as

Worldwide genotyping of castor bean germplasm (Ricinus communis L.) using AFLPs and SSRs

  • Gerard Allan
  • Amber Williams
  • Pablo D. Rabinowicz
  • Agnes P. Chan
  • Jacques Ravel
  • Paul Keim
Research Article


Worldwide genetic diversity in 200 individuals comprising 41 castor bean accessions was assessed using amplified fragment polymorphisms (AFLPs) and simple sequence repeats (SSRs). We found that, despite surveying five continents and 35 countries, genetic diversity in castor bean germplasm is relatively low (overall H e = 0.126 for AFLPs and 0.188 for SSRs) compared to estimates of genetic diversity in other plant species. Our data also show no geographic structuring of genotypes across continents or countries within continents. An assessment of the congruence between AFLP and SSRs indicates a low correlation (R 2 = 0.19) between the two data sets, but each marker class nonetheless shows similar patterns of low-genetic diversity and a lack of geographic structure. Our data do suggest that SSRs yield a higher percentage of polymorphic loci, higher heterozyosity and a greater range of genetic distances, and are therefore more informative than are AFLPs on a locus-by-locus basis. Based on comparisons with numerous other plant species, we suggest that the lower genetic variation in this worldwide collection may be due to one or more factors including: sampling strategies that have not captured the full extent of genetic variation in the species; artifactual variation due to long-term germplasm storage and seed regeneration; or intense selection followed by domestic cultivation of a limited number of castor bean genotypes, which are widely propagated for their horticultural and agro-economic value.


Amplified fragment length polymorphisms Ricinus communis Simple sequence repeats 



We extend our thanks to Dr. Brad Morris at the USDA-ARS Plant Genetic Resource Conservation Unit in Griffin, GA, USA for providing seeds of castor bean accessions discussion in choosing germplasm material. Bradford Blake (NAU) provided expert guidance and care of castor bean seedlings. We also thank Drs. Jim Robertson and Mark Wilson (Federal Bureau of Investigation, Quantico Laboratories, Quantico, Virginia) for providing funding for this project and assistance with sampling of castor bean accessions. This research was also supported in part by Federal funds from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH, DHHS, under contract No. NO1-AI-30071. Dr. Ken Wurdack (Smithsonian Institution) provided helpful information about the systematic and phylogenetic affinities of castor bean. The views expressed in this academic research paper are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of the US Government or the Department of Justice.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerard Allan
    • 1
  • Amber Williams
    • 2
  • Pablo D. Rabinowicz
    • 3
  • Agnes P. Chan
    • 3
  • Jacques Ravel
    • 3
  • Paul Keim
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesThe Environmental Genetics and Genomics (EnGGen) Laboratory, Northern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA
  2. 2.Center for Microbial Genetics and GenomicsNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA
  3. 3.The Institute for Genomic ResearchRockvilleUSA

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