The population structure and diversity of eggplant from Asia and the Mediterranean Basin

PLoS One. 2013 Sep 6;8(9):e73702. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0073702. eCollection 2013.


A collection of 238 eggplant breeding lines, heritage varieties and selections within local landraces provenanced from Asia and the Mediterranean Basin was phenotyped with respect to key plant and fruit traits, and genotyped using 24 microsatellite loci distributed uniformly throughout the genome. STRUCTURE analysis based on the genotypic data identified two major sub-groups, which to a large extent mirrored the provenance of the entries. With the goal to identify true-breeding types, 38 of the entries were discarded on the basis of microsatellite-based residual heterozygosity, along with a further nine which were not phenotypically uniform. The remaining 191 entries were scored for a set of 19 fruit and plant traits in a replicated experimental field trial. The phenotypic data were subjected to principal component and hierarchical principal component analyses, allowing three major morphological groups to be identified. All three morphological groups were represented in both the "Occidental" and the "Oriental" germplasm, so the correlation between the phenotypic and the genotypic data sets was quite weak. The relevance of these results for evolutionary studies and the further improvement of eggplant are discussed. The population structure of the core set of germplasm shows that it can be used as a basis for an association mapping approach.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asia
  • Breeding
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genetics, Population
  • Genome, Plant / genetics
  • Genotype
  • Mediterranean Region
  • Microsatellite Repeats / genetics*
  • Phenotype
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Solanum melongena / anatomy & histology*
  • Solanum melongena / classification
  • Solanum melongena / genetics*
  • Species Specificity

Grant support

This research was partially supported by the Italian Ministry of Agricultural Alimentary and Forest Politics in the framework of “ESPLORA”project. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. No additional external funding were received for this study.