Ibrahim Bio Yerima, A. R., Achigan-Dako, E. G., Aissata, M., Sekloka, E., Billot, C., Adje, C. O., … & Bakasso, Y. (2020). Agromorphological characterization revealed three phenotypic groups in a region-wide germplasm of fonio (Digitaria Exilis (Kippist) Stapf) from West Africa. Agronomy, 10(11), 1653.
Fonio is an ancient orphan cereal, cultivated by resource-poor farmers in arid and semi-arid regions of West Africa, who conserved and used the cereal for nutrition and income generation. However, the extent and patterns of phenotypic variation within the fonio germplasm remain scarcely evaluated to inform breeding decisions. In this study, we used alpha lattice design to assess the phenotypic variability of 180 fonio accessions using 20 agro morphological descriptors, including both qualitative and quantitative traits at Bengou research station in 2018 and 2019. Descriptive statistics, combined analysis and multivariate analyses, including principal components analysis (PCA), hierarchical clustering, and multiple factor analysis (MFA) were performed. As results, we found significant differences among fonio accessions and among agro ecological zones of provenance for most of the quantitative traits. Furthermore, highly significant positive correlations were found between grain yield and other yield-related attributes such as harvest index and thousand seeds weight, whereas significant negative correlations were found between grain yield and flowering and maturity times. Clusters analysis revealed three phenotypic groups. Group 1 was characterized by early maturing fonio accessions with higher grain yield. Groups 2 and 3 were characterized by late maturing accessions with intermediate to moderate grain yield. The accessions from Group 1 are candidate for yield improvement and development of fonio lines with enhanced lodging resistance. Accessions from Group 2 and 3 can be improved for yield through marker-assisted selection of best thousand seed weight. This study highlights how traits are correlated within the major phenotypic groups of fonio in West Africa, and we discussed how these groups could be further exploited for improving traits of economic importance. Furthermore, this study exhibited agro morphological descriptors that discriminate fonio accessions and provide useful information for parental selection with economically important agronomic traits.
Keywords : fonio ; fonio millet ; white fonio ; Digitaria exilis ; agro morphological descriptors ; phenotypic diversity ; neglected and underutilized species (NUS) ; genetic improvement.