Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 January 2014
The characterization of genetic diversity and structure for improved cultivated varieties/elite lines is tremendously important to assist breeders in parental selection for inbred and hybrid breeding and heterotic group construction. In this study, a total of 737 improved indica varieties/lines developed recently and/or widely used by present indica breeding programmes worldwide were genotyped with a 384-single-nucleotide polymorphism assay. Model-based population structure analysis revealed the presence of two major groups with six subgroups (SGs), wherein no clear correlation was found between the groups/SGs and breeding programmes or geographical origin of the accessions. Over half of the accessions (51.8%) appeared to have less than 0.6 memberships assigned to any one of the six model-based groups, highlighting the wide range of gene flow within improved indica varieties/lines and the genetic integration of valuable alleles shared by ancestries among improved high-yielding varieties/lines through germplasm exchanges. Distance-based clustering revealed that Latin-American cultivated indica lines have tended to form their own ecological cline, which could serve as a potential heterotic ecotype for hybrid rice breeding, although they are still closely related to Asian indica lines. African cultivated indica lines, on the other hand, have not yet formed their own ecological cline. It was also observed that the most well-known hybrid rice parents, Zhenshan97B and Minghui63, were unexpectedly clustered in the same SG with a relatively narrow genetic distance, which suggests that a significant genetic distance between parents is not a prerequisite for all elite hybrid rice lines with high heterosis.