Tree Genetics & Genomes

, 13:18 | Cite as

Genetic diversity of the sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa Mill.) in Central Europe and the western part of the Balkan Peninsula and evidence of marron genotype introgression into wild populations

  • Igor Poljak
  • Marilena Idžojtić
  • Zlatko Šatović
  • Marin Ježić
  • Mirna Ćurković-Perica
  • Bojan Simovski
  • Jane Acevski
  • Zlatko LiberEmail author
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Hybridization


The sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa Mill.) is a widely spread and important multipurpose tree species in the Mediterranean area, which has played an important role in human history. Natural events, such as glaciations, and human influence played significant roles in the distribution and genetic makeup of the sweet chestnut. In order to better understand how natural and human-mediated past events affected the current genetic diversity and structure of the sweet chestnut, we analysed populations from Central Europe and the western part of the Balkan Peninsula, utilizing ten polymorphic nuclear microsatellite markers. The study revealed the existence of three genetically and, to a large extent, geographically distinct and well-defined groups of sweet chestnut populations. Two not entirely separated groups of populations were detected in the northern part of the studied area and one in the southern. Our results indicate that the genetic structure of sweet chestnut populations in Central Europe and the western part of the Balkan Peninsula is the result of both natural colonization events and significant and lengthy human impact. Furthermore, it has been proven that the gene flow between cultivated/grafted trees’ and wild chestnut stands can influence their genetic structure. However, our results reveal that cultivated-to-wild introgression in the sweet chestnut is dependent on the close proximity of chestnut orchards and naturally occurring populations.


Sweet chestnut Genetic variability Population structure Introgression Microsatellites 



This study was supported by the Croatian Ministry of Science Education and Sport (project 068-0242108-2773), Swiss National Science Foundation (SCOPES project No. IZ73Z0_152525/1) and Croatian Science Foundation (Project No. 5381).

Supplementary material

11295_2017_1107_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Table S1 Sample size (n) and geographic coordinates for 16 Castanea sativa populations (n = 327) (DOCX 13 kb)
11295_2017_1107_MOESM2_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Table S2 Repeat motifs, size ranges, number of alleles (N a) and polymorphic information content (PIC) for ten microsatellite loci used in 15 wild Castanea sativa populations (n = 301) (DOCX 13 kb)
11295_2017_1107_MOESM3_ESM.docx (17 kb)
Table S3 Pairwise F ST values (lower diagonal) and their significance (upper diagonal) among 15 wild Castanea sativa populations (DOCX 16 kb)
11295_2017_1107_MOESM4_ESM.docx (57 kb)
Table S4 Relatedness (r) between ‘Lovran Marron’ and individual trees sampled from 15 wild Castanea sativa populations (DOCX 57 kb)
11295_2017_1107_MOESM5_ESM.docx (29 kb)
Fig. S1 Inference of K, the most probable number of clusters, using STRUCTURE software, based on microsatellite analysis of 301 total samples of Castanea sativa (DOCX 29 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Forest Genetics, Dendrology and Botany, Faculty of ForestryUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia
  2. 2.Department for Seed Science and Technology, Faculty of AgricultureUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia
  3. 3.Centre of Excellence for Biodiversity and Molecular Plant BreedingZagrebCroatia
  4. 4.Department of Biology, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia
  5. 5.Department of Botany and Dendrology, Faculty of ForestrySs. Cyril and Methodius University in SkopjeSkopjeMacedonia

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