Plant genetic resources are an important component of biodiversity and provide the basic genetic variability that allow new and improved cultivars to be developed. Numerous germplasm collections have been established and it is important to establish that such collections are representative and accessible to breeders and biotechnologists. Molecular markers provide the best estimate of genetic diversity since they are independent of the confounding effects of environmental factors. Assays based on the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) are considered to meet both the technical and genetical requirements for the characterisation of plant and animal genetic resources. Two main approaches are described, based on anonymous and defined primers. The use of both randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) and microsatellites or simple sequence repeats (SSR) for the characterisation of perennial tree species, and distribution of variability within gene pools is reported. The detection of interspecific gene introgression between coffee species with RAPD markers is described together with the use of microsatellites to genotype potato. The use of PCR‐based assays will facilitate the evaluation and utilisation of plant genetic resources.
- Gene pool
- Genetic resources
- Randomly amplified polymorphic DNA