Microsatellite variability in grapevine cultivars from different European regions and evaluation of assignment testing to assess the geographic origin of cultivars
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Nine microsatellite markers (VVMD5, VVMD7, VVS2, ssrVrZAG21, ssrVrZAG47, ssrVrZAG62, ssrVrZAG64, ssrVrZAG79 and ssrVrZAG83) were chosen for the analysis of marker information content, the genetic structure of grapevine cultivar gene pools, and differentiation among grapevines sampled from seven European vine-growing regions (Greece, Croatia, North Italy, Austria and Germany, France, Spain and Portugal). The markers were found to be highly informative in all cultivar groups and therefore constitute a useful set for the genetic characterization of European grapevines. Similar and high levels of genetic variability were detected in all investigated grapevine gene pools. Genetic differentiation among cultivars from different regions was significant, even in the case of adjacent groups such as the Spanish and Portuguese cultivars. No genetic differentiation could be detected between vines with blue and white grapes, indicating that they have undergone the processes of cultivar development jointly. The observed genetic differentiation among vine-growing regions suggested that cultivars could possibly be assigned to their regions of origin according to their genotypes. This might allow one to determine the geographical origin of cultivars with an unknown background. The assignment procedure proved to work for cultivars from the higher differentiated regions, as for example from Austria and Portugal.
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