Molecular marker based genetic resolution of Morus alba and M.Indica for reassessment of taxonomic status

Author(s): Mathi Thumilan B and Dandin SB

The debate on the taxonomic status of the two most popular cultivated mulberry species of India; Morus alba and Morus indica has persisted since long time. Subtlemorpho-agronomical distinction and cross pollinating nature have added to the confusion in identification. Historical evidence suggests that M.alba has been introduced from China to Japan and to rest of the world including India through the famous silk route.M.indica is believed to be endemic to the Indian subcontinent. The present study utilizes the DNA markers for screening the genetic resolution of the two species for reassessment of the taxonomic status. DNA profiling of 16 indigenous and exotic varieties belongs to M.indica and M.alba were analyses for genetic variation by 12 informative RAPDmarkers. The dominant randomprimers generated 136markers, ofwhich 128 (80%)were polymorphic. The UPGMA clustering resulted in four distinct clusters. Based on the results obtained from materials used and interrelationship observed by UPGMA analysis of marker data, it is concluded that, the genetic distinction between the taxa were very less and hence M.indica may be considered as a variety under the species M.alba. The conclusion is supportive of the findings of the lectotypication and taxonomic studies on these species. Genetic diversity estimates of some of the materials utilized in the present investigation can be used in precise planning of mulberry crop improvement.

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