In India, the ancient books Charakasamhitha and Susruthasamhitha, which embody the principles of Ayurveda (traditional health care system), describe the medicinal properties of a rice strain called "Sashtika." It is believed that "Njavara," a medicinal rice strain from Kerala State, India, is a Sashtika. Njavara grains are used for a variety of purposes-as base material for njavarakizhi, an acclaimed ayurvedic treatment for rheumatic complaints; as a supplementary diet for the underweight; and as a health drink. The medicinal and nutritive properties of Njavara have recently received wide recognition
and have caught the eye of the corporate sector. However, apart from sporadic reports on the agronomic evaluation of Njavara (Menon and Potty 1998), no information on its genetic structure is available. Here, we report the molecular marker-assisted characterization of Njavara germplasm, which we earlier collected and evaluated morphologically (Sreejayan et al 2003).
Genomic DNA isolated from five individuals each from 28 collections was subjected to random amplified polymorphic DNA analysis using a selected set of nine primers to assess intracollection heterogeneity. A total of 40 distinct electromorphs were selected. The genetic relationships between the electromorphs were examined, along with six other rice varieties, using 1,106 amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers generated by 12 primer combinations. A representative AFLP profile is given in Figure 1. With a few exceptions, the Njavara collections were clustered according to three morphotypes identified earlier: tall yellow, dwarf yellow, and dwarf black (Sreejayan et al 2003). The other varieties formed a group distant from Njavara (Fig. 2).