Simple sequence repeats for the genetic analysis of apple
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The development of highly informative markers, such as simple sequence repeats, for tagging genes controlling agronomic characters is essential for apple breeding. Furthermore the use of these markers is fundamental both for variety identification and for the characterisation and management of genetic resources. We have developed 16 reliable simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers that amplify all alleles from a panel of 19 Malus x domestica (Borkh.) cultivars or breeding selections and from Malus floribunda 821. Those markers show a high level of genetic polymorphism, with on average 8.2 alleles per locus and an average heterozygosity of 0.78. Due to this high level of polymorphism, it was possible using two selected SSRs to distinguish all cultivars except Starking and Red Delicious. Ten of the markers we developed have been mapped on a RAPD linkage map, proving their Mendelian segregation as well as their random distribution in the apple genome. Finally, we discuss the importance of using co-dominant markers in outbreeding species.
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