Intra-specific hybridization: generator of genetic diversification and heterosis in Andrographis paniculata Nees. a bridge from extinction to survival.
Andrographis paniculata (AP) has been stated as a low-diverse, endangered and red-listed plant species. Self-pollinated mating system, being an introduced species and experiencing a bottleneck as well as over exploitation cause such a consequence. Inter and intra-specific hybridizations have been suggested as essential techniques for generating genetic diversity. To test the effect of intra-specific hybridization on diversification and heterosis of AP, seven accessions were outcrossed manually in all 21 possible combinations. Three types of markers including morphological, phytochemical and RAPD markers were employed to evaluate the mentioned hypothesis. The results revealed that hybridization acted as a powerful engine for diversification of AP as it caused heterotic expression of the studied traits, simultaneously. Initially, it seems that additive and non-additive gene effects both can be considered as the genetic basis of heterosis in AP for the investigated traits. Agronomic and morphological traits were differentiated from each other, while positive heterosis was recorded mainly for agronomic traits but not for the morphological traits. Intra-specific hybridization increased the genetic diversity in AP population. Nevertheless, a part of this variation could also be attributed to the negative heterosis. The current exploration demonstrated the first ever conducted manual intra-specific hybridization among AP accessions in a mass scale. However, the 17 RAPD primers produced a monomorph pattern, but perhaps increasing the number of markers can feature a new genetic profile in this plant.