The genetic diversity in seed lipid and fatty acid composition in nine accessions of sesame, comprising six cultivated and three wild relatives, was studied and compared. Seed oil content was 53.23–55.12% in cultivated and 53.35–58.56% in wild accessions. The principal fatty acids in the accessions were palmitic, stearic, oleic (OLE), linoleic (LIN) and linolenic (LIL) acids, of which lower OLE and higher LIN acids were observed in all the accessions. Principal component analysis revealed that OLE acid, total unsaturated fatty acids, total saturated fatty acids (SFAs), LIN acid and the unsaturated to SFA ratio had the highest loading in the first component, which accounted for 54.01% of the total variation. For the second principal components, lauric, palmitoleic, capric, lignoceric, arachidic and LIL acids had the highest loading, accounting for 26.94% of the total variation. Three principal components explained 89.01% of the total variation. The dendrogram generated by the UPGMA cluster analysis grouped the nine accessions into five distinct clusters, indicating genetic diversity; this can be used to plan crosses and maximise the expression of heterosis.
Practical applications: This research work provides information on the fatty acid profile of seed oil from nine morphologically distinct accessions of sesame selected from thirty-three accessions collected in 2003. This is intended to establish genetic diversity on the basis of fatty acid profile, identify accessions with high seed oil quality that may be adopted for large scale cultivation in Nigeria and justify the suitability of the nine accessions in serving as base materials in the ongoing breeding efforts for sesame seed oil quantity and quality improvement.