Clonal propagation assures the maintenance of genetic purity of a sweetpotato variety. The existence of foundation seed programs further contributes to the conservation of favorable genetic constitution in a commercial cultivar. However, the improvement of current maintenance procedures is necessary as shown by the occurrence of mutations and the decline of certain commercial varieties. Information on the nature and extent of changes in sweetpotato would therefore be useful in this regard.
`Jewel' clones obtained from eight state foundation seed programs were subjected to yield tests and a RAPD-based assay. Differences in nearly all yield grades were detected during the 1991, 1992, and 1993 seasons. The yield of U.S. No. 1 grade roots varied from 27% to 46%. The quality factors measured also varied: % alcohol insoluble solids varied by 13%, while sucrose ranged from 9.6% to 19%. Total DNA was extracted from each clone and assayed against 40 primers. All primers produced amplified fragments. A total of 110 reproducible bands was generated by 38 primers. Putative polymorphic markers were scored in 21 (18.58%) of these bands based on the presence or absence of amplified products. The results suggest an underlying cause for the variability observed in phenotypic traits within sweetpotato clones.