Polymorphism analysis and yield tests were conducted among `Jewel' sweetpotato clones [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam] obtained from eight state foundation seed programs. Initially, 38 arbitrary primers generated a total of 110 scorable DNA fragments in a sample of virus-indexed plants from each clone source. The number of marker loci scored for each primer varied from one to eight with an average of 2.89. Twenty-one bands (19.1%) were scored as putative polymorphic markers based on the presence or absence of amplified products. Further estimation of variability within each clone source was accomplished by an assay of 10 sample plants per clone group by 14 marker loci generated by four selected primers. Polymorphic bands ranged from 7.1% to 35.7 % in five of eight clone groups. Field studies show variation in nearly all yield grades measured. In three tests during the 1991 and 1992 seasons, yield differences ranged from 27% to 46% within the economically important U.S. no. 1 root grade. The results suggest the usefulness of arbitrarily-primed markers in detecting intra-clonal sweetpotato DNA polymorphisms and indicate an underlying genetic cause for phenotypic variability in the crop.
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