Molecular marker analysis of safflower



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ABSTRACT Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) is an oilseed crop considered to be one of the most drought tolerant crops primarily due to its extensive rooting system which gives it the ability to absorb deep water unavailable to most crops and scavenge nutrients leached down the soil profile. Recently characterized safflower accessions have the ability to be seeded in the fall and harvested in the spring, giving farmers a valuable crop to incorporate into a cropping rotation. A large amount of diversity between safflower accessions offers the potential for improved agricultural traits such as increased oil content and modified fatty acid composition. Traditional plant breeding has made improvements to this crop, but little molecular work has been done to date. Using molecular markers, our goal is to further characterize inter- and intra-safflower accession diversity for identifying water use efficient lines and increasing oil content to produce a profitable crop for farmers in the Lower Great Plains and other arid regions across the globe. A mini-core collection of safflower representing the wide range of diversity within the species has been characterized using AFLP analysis. In this study, we have employed SSR markers to further characterize this mini-core collection in addition to several known winter-hardy safflower accessions with production characteristics favorable for the Lower Great Plains region. We have screened this material for transpiration efficiency and root growth phenotypes to identify markers associated with these traits.



Safflower, Simple sequence repeat (SSR), Molecular marker