Morphological patterns in a world collection of Cleome gynandra.
Cleome gynandra L. is a leafy vegetable native to sub-Saharan Africa and Asia and cultivated on dry areas. The plant plays an important role in the food and nutrition security of local communities. The objective of this study was to illustrate variation and diversity in the Cleome collection held at the World Vegetable Center. In total, 242 accessions were cultivated and morphologically characterized and analyzed. The gynophore and filament, both important organs of the flower, played a key role in taxonomical identification. High morphological variation was detected in traits including plant height, pod length, leaf size, flower color, and earliness. Distinct morphological differentiation was detected between Asian and African accessions. On average, the African accessions were larger, less uniform and later in flowering and seed maturation than the Asian accessions. The results were used to establish a core collection of 49 Cleome accessions. Gaps in the current collection were detected. High within-accessions diversity challenges the existing ex situ conservation system; to maintain diversity, seed should be collected from a large number of plants, both during the collection mission and in ex situ regeneration. The results are relevant for germplasm collection strategies and regeneration protocols for good genebank practices.