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The genetic diversity and evolution of field pea (Pisum) studied by high throughput retrotransposon based insertion polymorphism (RBIP) marker analysis

Runchun Jing15, Alexander Vershinin26, Jacek Grzebyta17, Paul Shaw3, Petr Smýkal4, David Marshall3, Michael J Ambrose2, TH Noel Ellis2 and Andrew J Flavell1*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Plant Sciences, University of Dundee at SCRI, Invergowrie, DUNDEE 5DA, UK

2 John Innes Centre, Colney, Norwich, NR4 7UH, UK

3 Scottish Crop Research Institute, Invergowrie, Dundee, DD2 5DA, UK

4 Agritec Plant Research Ltd, Plant Biotechnology Department, Zemědělská 2520/16, CZ-787 01 Šumperk, Czech Republic

5 Current address: School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK

6 Current address: Institute of Cytology and Genetics, Novosibirsk, Russia

7 Current address: Rothamstead Research, Harpenden, Herts, UK

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BMC Evolutionary Biology 2010, 10:44  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-10-44

Published: 15 February 2010



The genetic diversity of crop species is the result of natural selection on the wild progenitor and human intervention by ancient and modern farmers and breeders. The genomes of modern cultivars, old cultivated landraces, ecotypes and wild relatives reflect the effects of these forces and provide insights into germplasm structural diversity, the geographical dimension to species diversity and the process of domestication of wild organisms. This issue is also of great practical importance for crop improvement because wild germplasm represents a rich potential source of useful under-exploited alleles or allele combinations. The aim of the present study was to analyse a major Pisum germplasm collection to gain a broad understanding of the diversity and evolution of Pisum and provide a new rational framework for designing germplasm core collections of the genus.


3020 Pisum germplasm samples from the John Innes Pisum germplasm collection were genotyped for 45 retrotransposon based insertion polymorphism (RBIP) markers by the Tagged Array Marker (TAM) method. The data set was stored in a purpose-built Germinate relational database and analysed by both principal coordinate analysis and a nested application of the Structure program which yielded substantially similar but complementary views of the diversity of the genus Pisum. Structure revealed three Groups (1-3) corresponding approximately to landrace, cultivar and wild Pisum respectively, which were resolved by nested Structure analysis into 14 Sub-Groups, many of which correlate with taxonomic sub-divisions of Pisum, domestication related phenotypic traits and/or restricted geographical locations. Genetic distances calculated between these Sub-Groups are broadly supported by principal coordinate analysis and these, together with the trait and geographical data, were used to infer a detailed model for the domestication of Pisum.


These data provide a clear picture of the major distinct gene pools into which the genus Pisum is partitioned and their geographical distribution. The data strongly support the model of independent domestications for P. sativum ssp abyssinicum and P. sativum. The relationships between these two cultivated germplasms and the various sub-divisions of wild Pisum have been clarified and the most likely ancestral wild gene pools for domesticated P. sativum identified. Lastly, this study provides a framework for defining global Pisum germplasm which will be useful for designing core collections.