Genetics and Molecular Biology vol:34 issue:2 pages:252-258
Cost reduction in plant breeding and conservation programs depends largely on correctly defining the minimal sample size required for the trustworthy assessment of intra-and inter-cultivar genetic variation. White clover, an important pasture legume, was chosen for studying this aspect. In clonal plants, such as the aforementioned, an appropriate sampling scheme eliminates the redundant analysis of identical genotypes. The aim was to define an optimal sampling strategy, i.e., the minimum sample size and appropriate sampling scheme for white clover cultivars, by using AFLP data (283 loci) from three popular types. A grid-based sampling scheme, with an interplant distance of at least 40 cm, was sufficient to avoid any excess in replicates. Simulations revealed that the number of samples substantially influenced genetic diversity parameters. When using less than 15 per cultivar, the expected heterozygosity (He) and Shannon diversity index (I) were greatly underestimated, whereas with 20, more than 95% of total intra-cultivar genetic variation was covered. Based on AMOVA, a 20-cultivar sample was apparently sufficient to accurately quantify individual genetic structuring. The recommended sampling strategy facilitates the efficient characterization of diversity in white clover, for both conservation and exploitation.