Analysis of molecular genetic diversity and population structure in Amaranthus germplasm using SSR markers

We assessed the molecular genetic diversity and population structure of Amaranthus species accessions using 11 simple sequence repeat markers. A total of 122 alleles were detected, and the number of alleles per marker (NA) ranged from 6 to 21 with an average of 11.1 alleles. The frequency of major alleles per locus ranged from 0.148 to 0.695, with an average value of 0.496 per marker. The overall polymorphic information content values were 0.436–0.898, with an average value of 0.657. The observed heterozygosity (HO) and expected heterozygosity (HE) ranged from 0.056 to 0.876 and from 0.480 to 0.907, with average values of 0.287 and 0.698, respectively. The average HO (0.240) was lower than the HE and gene flow (Nm), and showed substantial genetic variability among all populations of amaranth accessions. The sample groupings did not strictly follow the geographic affiliations of the accessions. A similar pattern was obtained using model-based structure analysis without grouping by species type. Knowledge of the genetic diversity and population structure of amaranth can be used to select representative genotypes and manage Amaranthus germplasm breeding programs.