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Theor Appl Genet. 2002 Feb;104(2-3):358-366.

AFLP analysis of the phenetic organization and genetic diversity of Vigna unguiculataL. Walp. reveals extensive gene flow between wild and domesticated types.

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Department of Agronomy and Range Science, University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8515, USA.


Amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLPs) were used to evaluate genetic relationships within cowpea [ Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.] and to assess the organization of its genetic diversity. Nei's genetic distances were estimated for a total of 117 accessions including 47 domesticated cowpea (ssp. unguiculata var. unguiculata), 52 wild and weedy annuals (ssp. unguiculata var. spontanea), as well as 18 perennial accessions of the wild subspecies pubescens, tenuis and alba. AFLP variation was also used to study genetic variation among and within domesticated and wild accessions based on their geographical origin (western, eastern and southern Africa). Wild annual cowpea (var. spontanea) ( H (T)=0.175) was more diverse than domesticated cowpea ( H (T)=0.108). Wild cowpea was more diverse in eastern ( H (S)=0.168) than in western Africa ( H (S)=0.129), suggesting an eastern African origin for the wild taxon. The AFLP data were consistent with earlier findings of a unique domestication event in cowpea in the northern part of the continent and suggested that domestication in eastern or southern Africa was unlikely. It did not allow a more precise localization of domestication due to extensive gene flow between wild and domesticated forms that has led to a large crop-weed complex distributed over the entire African continent. In addition, wild materials from northeastern Africa are still lacking. Overall, the superiority of the AFLP technique over isozymes resided in its ability to uncover variation both within domesticated and wild cowpea, and should be a powerful tool once additional wild material becomes available.

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