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Analysis of genetic diversity and population structure within Florida coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) germplasm using microsatellite DNA, with special emphasis on the Fiji Dwarf cultivar

Abstract.

Using 15 simple sequence repeat (SSR) microsatellite DNA loci, we analyzed genetic variation within Cocos nucifera germplasm collections at two locations in south Florida, representing eight cultivars. The loci were also used in a parentage analysis of progeny of the 'Fiji Dwarf' variety at both locations. A total of 67 alleles were detected, with eight the highest number at any one locus. These loci identified 83 of the 110 individual palms. Gene diversity of the 15 loci ranged from 0.778 to 0.223, with a mean of 0.574. 'Fiji Dwarf', 'Malayan Dwarf', 'Green Niño' and 'Red Spicata' cultivars resolve as distinct clusters in a neighbor joining tree using modified Rogers distance, while the tall varieties form two aggregates. The highest gene diversity was found in the tall cultivars (Ĥ = 0.583 cumulatively), and the lowest in the 'Malayan Dwarf' (Ĥ = 0.202). After the tall coconuts, the 'Fiji Dwarf' was most genetically diverse (Ĥ = 0.436), and had the largest number of unique alleles. Genetic identity is highest among the 'Malayan Dwarf' phenotypes, and between the tall varieties. The 'Red Malayan Dwarf' is genetically distinct from the 'Green' and 'Yellow Malayan Dwarf' phenotypes, which cannot be distinguished with the SSR loci used. Off-type 'Malayan Dwarf' phenotypes (putative hybrids with talls) can be identified genotypically. Parentage analyses of 30 'Fiji Dwarf' progeny propagated from five adults surrounded by other cultivars estimate that only 20% of the progeny were out-crossed to the other varieties, while 40–46% were possible selfs. This suggests that a seed-production orchard of the variety maintained at reasonable distance from other varieties, will likely yield only 'Fiji Dwarf' genotypes. Our data are discussed in the context of hypotheses of coconut dissemination around the world.

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Meerow, A.W., Wisser, R.J., Brown, S.J. et al. Analysis of genetic diversity and population structure within Florida coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) germplasm using microsatellite DNA, with special emphasis on the Fiji Dwarf cultivar. Theor Appl Genet 106, 715–726 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00122-002-1121-z

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  • Arecaceae Palmae SSR Breeding Parentage analysis Tropical horticulture Palm