Unravelling genetic diversity and cultivar parentage in the Danish apple gene bank collection
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- Larsen, B., Toldam-Andersen, T.B., Pedersen, C. et al. Tree Genetics & Genomes (2017) 13: 14. doi:10.1007/s11295-016-1087-7
Characterization of apple germplasm is important for conservation management and breeding strategies. A set of 448 Malus domestica accessions, primarily of local Danish origin, were genotyped using 15 microsatellite markers. Ploidy levels were determined by flow cytometry. Special emphasis was given to pedigree reconstruction, cultivar fingerprinting and genetic clustering. A reference set of cultivars, mostly from other European countries, together with a private nursery collection and a small set of Malus sieversii, Malus sylvestris and small-fruited, ornamental Malus cultivars, was also included. The microsatellite markers amplified 17–30 alleles per loci with an average degree of heterozygosity at 0.78. We identified 104 (23%) duplicate genotypes including colour sports. We could infer first-degree relationships for many cultivars with previously unknown parentages. STRUCTURE analysis provided no evidence for a genetic structure but allowed us to present a putative genetic assembly that was consistent with both PCA analysis and parental affiliation. The Danish cultivar collection contains 10% duplicate genotypes including colour sports and 22% triploids. Many unique accessions and considerable genetic diversity make the collection a valuable resource within the European apple germplasm. The findings presented shed new light on the origin of Danish apple cultivars. The fingerprints can be used for cultivar identification and future management of apple genetic resources. In addition, future genome-wide association studies and breeding programmes may benefit from the findings concerning genetic clustering and diversity of cultivars.