Seedlings of Pistacia vera L. developed from seeds of two separate populations in Turkmenistan, Kepele and Agachli, were evaluated for their growth potential and genetic polymorphism. Plant growth rate as well as random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis showed distinct differences between the two populations. In plant height growth rate, 17 Agachli accessions were 1.3 times higher on average than that of 10 accessions of Kepele (significant at p = 0.046) and 1.2 times higher for trunk diameter growth rate (p = 0.062). Cluster analysis divided most accessions into two main genetic groups according to their geographic origin. The Agachli group was further divided into two subgroups. One Kepele accession (K4), was genetically different from the rest and clustered on a separate outgroup. Two Agachli accessions (A12 and A17) were outside the two main populations clusters. Accessions K9 and K10 from Kepele were exceptional and were clustered in each of the two Agachli's subgroups, indicating a close genetic relationship between the two populations. In addition, high similarity values (0.58–1.00) and small genetic distances reflect plausible gene flow between Kepele and Agachli, which are 100 Km apart. Mantel test revealed significant relationship between the RAPD and the morphological traits matrices, pointing to the genetic basis for the measured differences in the growth rate. Growing the accessions on the same plot, under similar conditions enabled the evaluation of genotypic differences. The combination of morphological traits and molecular markers will further assist in preservation of genetic variability and cultivation of useful genotypes of P. vera L.
Genetic variabilityMorphologyPistacia vera L.PolymorphismRAPDTurkmenistan