Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution

, Volume 56, Issue 6, pp 829–842 | Cite as

Genetic identity and relationships of Iranian apple (Malus × domestica Borkh.) cultivars and landraces, wild Malus species and representative old apple cultivars based on simple sequence repeat (SSR) marker analysis

  • Ali GharghaniEmail author
  • Zabihollah Zamani
  • Alireza Talaie
  • Nnadozie C. Oraguzie
  • Reza Fatahi
  • Hassan Hajnajari
  • Claudia Wiedow
  • Susan E. Gardiner
Research Article


In order to shed light on the role of Iran in apple evolution and domestication, we chose to investigate the relationships of a collection of 159 accessions of wild and domesticated apples including Iranian indigenous apple cultivars and landraces, selected wild species, and old apple scion and rootstock cultivars from different parts of the world. The majority of the wild species belonged to M. sieversii, which is widely believed to be the main maternal wild ancestor of domestic apples, from Kazakhstan and M. orientalis, which is one of the probable minor ancestors of domestic apples, from Turkey and Russia located on the east and west of Iran, respectively. The accessions were assigned into six arbitrary populations for the purpose of generating information on genetic parameters. Nine simple sequence repeat (SSR) loci selected from previous studies in apple were screened over DNA extracted from all the accessions. Results showed that all SSR loci displayed a very high degree of polymorphism with 11–25 alleles per locus. In total, there were 153 alleles across all loci with an average of 17 alleles per locus. The SSR allelic data were then used for estimation of population genetic parameters, including genetic variation statistics, F-statistics, gene flow, genetic identity, genetic distance and then cluster analysis using POPGENE 1.32 software. The F-statistics and gene flow in particular, showed that there was more intra-population than between population variation. The genetic identity and genetic distance estimates, and the dendrogram generated from the un-weighted pair group arithmetic average (UPGMA) method of cluster analysis showed that the Iranian cultivars and landraces were more closely related to M. sieversii from Central Asia (east of Iran) and M. orientalis native to Turkey and Russia than to other accessions of Malus species. Also, the old apple cultivars from different parts of the world have a closer genetic relationship to M. sieversii, M. orientalis and the Iranian apples, than to other wild species. Based on these results, we suggest that the Iranian apples may occupy an intermediate position between the domesticated varieties and wild species. We propose that Iran could be one of the major players in apples’ domestication and transfer from Central Asia to the western countries.


Apple rootstock cultivars Apple scion cultivars Genetic diversity Genetic relationship Iranian apples Malus spp M. orientalis M. sieversii Microsatellite 



We thank the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the University of Tehran for financial assistance towards travel to and living costs in New Zealand. We also thank HortResearch New Zealand, in particular, the genome mapping laboratory in Palmerston North, for providing the facilities to do this research. We are grateful to Dr Phil. Forsline at the USDA-ARS, Plant Genetic Resource Unit, Cornell University, Geneva, NY, USA. for providing leaf samples from the wild Malus species and Hossein Gharaghani, a masterate student at the College of Agriculture, University of Tehran, for preparing and sending DNA samples from some Iranian accessions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ali Gharghani
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Zabihollah Zamani
    • 1
  • Alireza Talaie
    • 1
  • Nnadozie C. Oraguzie
    • 3
  • Reza Fatahi
    • 1
  • Hassan Hajnajari
    • 4
  • Claudia Wiedow
    • 5
  • Susan E. Gardiner
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Horticultural ScienceUniversity of TehranKarajIran
  2. 2.Department of Horticultural Sciences, Faculty of AgricultureUniversity of ShirazShirazIran
  3. 3.Department of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture, IARECWashington State UniversityProsserUSA
  4. 4.Horticulture DepartmentSeed and Plant Improvement Institute (SPII)KarajIran
  5. 5.The Horticulture and Food Research Institute of New Zealand Ltd (HortResearch)Palmerston NorthNew Zealand

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