Original Paper

Theoretical and Applied Genetics

, Volume 111, Issue 1, pp 162-170

First online:

SSR allelic diversity changes in 480 European bread wheat varieties released from 1840 to 2000

  • V. RousselAffiliated withAmélioration et Santé des Plantes (UMR 1095), INRA
  • , L. LeisovaAffiliated withResearch Institute of Crop Production
  • , F. ExbrayatAffiliated withAmélioration et Santé des Plantes (UMR 1095), INRA
  • , Z. StehnoAffiliated withResearch Institute of Crop Production
  • , F. BalfourierAffiliated withAmélioration et Santé des Plantes (UMR 1095), INRA Email author 

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A sample of 480 bread wheat varieties originating from 15 European geographical areas and released from 1840 to 2000 were analysed with a set of 39 microsatellite markers. The total number of alleles ranged from 4 to 40, with an average of 16.4 alleles per locus. When seven successive periods of release were considered, the total number of alleles was quite stable until the 1960s, from which time it regularly decreased. Clustering analysis on Nei’s distance matrix between these seven temporal groups showed a clear separation between groups of varieties registered before and after 1970. Analysis of qualitative variation over time in allelic composition of the accessions indicated that, on average, the more recent the European varieties, the more similar they were to each other. However, European accessions appear to be more differentiated as a function of their geographical origin than of their registration period. On average, western European countries (France, The Netherlands, Great Britain, Belgium) displayed a lower number of alleles than southeastern European countries (former Yugoslavia, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary) and than the Mediterranean area (Italy, Spain and Portugal), which had a higher number. A hierarchical tree on Nei’s distance matrix between the 15 geographical groups of accessions exhibited clear opposition between the geographical areas north and south of the arc formed by the Alps and the Carpathian mountains. These results suggest that diversity in European wheat accessions is not randomly distributed but can be explained both by temporal and geographical variation trends linked to breeding practices and agriculture policies in different countries.