, Volume 99, Issue 7-8, pp 1120-1130

Genetic evidence for the origin of Californian wild beets (genus Beta)

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The genus Beta L. is a morphologically and genetically variable group composed of wild, weedy, and domesticated forms that are used for sugar production or as vegetables. In this study, we have evaluated genetic variation in 64 germplasm accessions of wild and domesticated beets and examined the origin of wild beet accessions in California using allozyme analysis. UPGMA analysis showed overall that domesticated and wild beets form genetically coherent groups. Wild beets in California have two different origins, from European Beta vulgaris or from Beta macrocarpa. Population-level patterns of allozyme variation for wild California beets related to B. vulgaris suggest that those populations evolved from naturalized populations of the cultivated B. vulgaris ssp. vulgaris which had hybridized to varying degrees with the sea beets B. vulgaris ssp. maritima. Wild California beets related to B. macrocarpa are essentially genetically identical to European accessions. In addition, we found substantial evidence for hybridization and introgression of B. vulgaris alleles in one B. macrocarpa accession in California. The obligate outcrosser B. vulgaris exhibits more allelic diversity than the self-compatible B. macrocarpa. Beta vulgaris ssp. maritima exhibits more genetic diversity than domesticated B. vulgaris ssp. vulgaris.

Received: 2 November 1998 / Accepted: 29 April 1999