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Gene Pools and the Genetic Architecture of Domesticated Cowpea

Bao-Lam Huynh, Timothy J. Close, Philip A. Roberts,* Zhiqiu Hu, Steve Wanamaker,
Mitchell R. Lucas, Rogerio Chiulele, Ndiaga Cissé, Antonio David, Sarah Hearne,
Christian Fatokun, Ndeye N. Diop, and Jeffrey D. Ehlers

Cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.] is a major tropical
legume crop grown in warm to hot areas throughout the world
and especially important to the people of sub-Saharan Africa
where the crop was domesticated. To date, relatively little is
understood about its domestication origins and patterns of
genetic variation. In this study, a worldwide collection of cowpea
landraces and African ancestral wild cowpea was genotyped
with more than 1200 single nucleotide polymorphism markers.
Bayesian inference revealed the presence of two major gene
pools in cultivated cowpea in Africa. Landraces from gene pool
1 are mostly distributed in western Africa while the majority of
gene pool 2 are located in eastern Africa. Each gene pool is
most closely related to wild cowpea in the same geographic
region, indicating divergent domestication processes leading
to the formation of two gene pools. The total genetic variation
within landraces from countries outside Africa was slightly
greater than within African landraces. Accessions from Asia and
Europe were more related to those from western Africa while
accessions from the Americas appeared more closely related to
those from eastern Africa. This delineation of cowpea germplasm
into groups of genetic relatedness will be valuable for guiding
introgression efforts in breeding programs and for improving the
efficiency of germplasm management.