Assessment of genetic relationships among Pyrus species and cultivars using AFLP and RAPD markers
Twenty-five Pyrus communis L. cultivars including eight traditional Portuguese pears, and four commercial Pyrus pyrifolia (Burm.) Nak. (Japanese pear or `nashi') cultivars were analysed by RAPD and AFLP techniques focusing on their molecular discrimination and the assessment of their genetic relatedness. Twenty-five primers generated 324 RAPD markers, among which 271 (84%) were polymorphic. The AFLP technique, using seven primer combinations, revealed a similar level of molecular polymorphisms (87%), representing 418 polymorphic bands among a total of 478 scored in autoradiographs. The high reproducibility of RAPD and AFLP techniques was confirmed comparing DNA samples from different extractions and different digestions of DNA from the same plant. Three genetic similarity matrices and respective dendrograms were elaborated on using RAPD, AFLP or joint RAPD and AFLP data. Both molecular marker techniques proved their reliability to assess genetic relationships among pear cultivars. P. pyrifolia cultivars exhibit a closer genetic relatedness, clustering apart from P. communis cultivars. Within P. communis, `William's', as well as `Doyenne du Comice', cluster close to their hybrids. Most of the Portuguese cultivars tend to cluster together, indicating to constitute a relatively independent genetic pool, which can be of interest in pear breeding programs.
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