Qualitative morphological diversity of Amaranthus species

Abe S Gerrano, W.S. Jansen van Rensburg, S. Mavengahama, M. Bairu, S. Venter, P.O. Adebola


Morphological characterization of plant genetic resources generates important information for plant breeders useful for pre-breeding and breeding programmes of crops. Amaranthus is one of the underutilized and genetically potential orphan crops grown in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. It is a food security crop that can alleviate malnutrition and generate income for the rural communities in South Africa. A number of Amaranthus species have been collected from different regions in the world and conserved in the gene bank of the Agricultural Research Council, Pretoria, South Africa. The objective of the study was to assess the genetic diversity of these conserved Amaranthus species using qualitative morphological characters. Thirty two species of Amaranthus were evaluated for 16 qualitative morphological characters in the field using a randomized complete block design with three replications. The frequencies for each qualitative character were tabulated. The Shannon Weaver diversity index (HI) was calculated and the result revealed a low to high diversity among the collection regions for the traits. The result of the study showed that the HI for all the species varied from 0.28 to 0.70, indicating the existence of a wide genetic diversity among species evaluated. The information obtained in this study could be used for the genetic improvement of Amaranthus species in South Africa for the development of cultivars.


Amaranthus, Qualitative traits, Shannon Weaver diversity index

Full Text:



Adebola, P.O. and Morakinyo, J.A. 2006. Evaluation of morpho-agronomic variability of wild and cultivated kola (Cola species Schott et. Endl) in South Western Nigeria. Genet. Resour. Crop Evol., 53: 687-694.

Brandolini, A., Castagna, R. and Empilli. 2000. Morpho-agronomic variability of the diploid wheat Triticum monococcum L. Plant Genet Resour Newsl., 124: 36-40.

Ebert, A.W., Wu T. and Wang, S. 2011. International co-operator’s guide. Vegetable

Amaranth (Amaranthus L.). AVRDC, World Vegetable Center Publication no. 11-754, p. 1-9, Taiwan.

Espitia-Rangel, E. 1994. Breeding of grain amaranth. In: Paredes-Lopes O., editor. Amaranth: Biology, chemistry and technology. Baton-Rouge: CRC Press, p. 23-

Gerrano, A.S., Jansen van Rensburg, W.S. and Adebola, P.O. 2015. Genetic diversity of Amaranthus species in South Africa. S Afr. J Plant and Soil, 32: 39-46.

Gerrano, A.S., Jansen van Rensburg, W.S. and Adebola, P.O. 2014. Agro-morphological variability of Amaranthus species in South Africa. In: Qixiang Zhang and Xiaobai

Jin, editors. Proceedings of the 6th International Symposium on Taxonomy of cultivated Plants. Acta Hort., 1035: 183-188.

Gueco, L.S., Borromeo, T. and De Guzman, C. 2016. Diversity in the morphology of Amaranth (Amaranthus sp.) germplasm collection in the Phillipines. Asian J. Agri. Food Sci., 4: 73-79.

IPGRI, 1999. International Plant Genetic Resources Institute. Directory of Plant Germplasm Collections. Rome, Italy.

Janovská, D., Cepkova, P.H. and Dzunkova, M. 2012. Characterisation of the amaranth genetic resources in the Czech Gene Bank. In: Caliskan M., editor. Genetic diversity in plants. Online: InTech, p. 457-478.

Jansen van Rensburg, W.S., van Averbeke, W., Slabbert, R., Faber, M., van Jaasrveld, P., van Heerden, S.M., Wenhold, F. and Oelofse, A. 2007. African leafy vegetables in South Africa. Water SA., 33: 317-326.

Katiyar, R.S., Shukla, S. and Rai, S. 2000. Varietal performance of grain amaranths (A. hypochonfiacus) on sodic soil. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, India, Section B: Biol. Sci., 70: 185-187.

Perry, M.C. and McIntosh, M.S. 1991. Geographical patterns of variation in the USDA Soyabean germplasm collection: I. Morphological traits. Crop Sci., 31: 1350-

Sauer, J.D. 1967. The grain Amaranthus and their relatives: A revised taxonomic and geographic survey. Ann. Missouri Bot., 54: 103-137.

Schippers, R.R. 2000. African indigenous vegetables: An overview of the cultivated species. Chatham, United Kingdom: ACP - EU Technical Centre for Agricultural Cooperation. p. 222.

Shannon, C.E. and Weaver, W. 1949. The Mathematical Theory of Communication. 1st ed. Urbana, IL: University of Illionis Press, p. 125.

Sounigo, O., Bekele, F., Christopher, G., Bidaisee, Y. and Umaharan, R. 1997. Comparison between diversity data obtained from morphological, biochemical, and molecular studies. Cocoa Research Unit Annual Report, the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, Trinidad. p. 20-29.

Tony-Odigie, A.E., Adekoya, K.O., Makinde, S.C.O., Oboh, B.O., Ogunkanmi, L.A. and Fowora. M.A. 2012. Assessment of Genetic Interspecies Relationships among Five Selected Amaranthus Species using Phenotypic and RAPD markers. Int. J. Bot., 8: 145-152.

Uusiku, N. P, A. Oelofse, K.G. Duodu, M.J. Bester, M. Faber, M. 2008. Nutritional value of leafy vegetables of sub-Saharan Africa and their potential contribution to human health: A review. J. Food Comp. Anal., 23: 499-509.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

A KAU publication [CODEN: JTAGEI; ISSN 0971-636X; eISSN 0973-5399]