Microsatellite variability in apricots (Prunus armeniaca L.) reflects their geographic origin and breeding history
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A collection of 133 apricot cultivars and three related species originating from different geographical regions were studied with 10 polymorphic microsatellite markers developed in apricot. Altogether, 133 alleles were identified in the set of accessions, with an average of 13.30 alleles per locus. Out of them, 32 alleles occurred only once in the investigated samples, especially in apricots originating from different eco-geographic groups or in different species. The observed heterozygosity for individual loci ranged from 0.8636 to 0.3182, with an average of 0.6281. An unweighted pair group method with arithmetic mean dendrogram based on Nei's genetic distance grouped the accessions according to their eco-geographical origin and/or their pedigree information. Central Asian cultivars have a distinct position on the dendrogram, which supports the assumption that most cultivars have an Asian ancestor. Most East European cultivars analysed cluster together, and the data even revealed a few synonyms. Results show that American cultivars have not only European germ plasm in their pedigree, but they have also been enriched with germ plasm of Asian origin. The implications of these data for the use of simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers as a tool for fingerprinting cultivars in breeders' rights protection and apricot breeding are discussed. In this paper, we demonstrate for the first time the variability of apricot SSRs in a large collection of apricot cultivars and closely related species.