Stokes aster is a herbaceous perennial native to the southeastern United States. Stokesia is a monotypic genus belonging to the tribe Vernonieae Cass. (family Asteraceae Dumont). The level of genetic diversity within the genus is unknown. The goal of this study was to determine the level of genetic diversity and relatedness among cultivars of stokes aster. The genetic relatedness among 10 cultivars of stokes aster, one accession of Vernonia crinita Raf. (syn. V. arkansana DC.), and one accession of Rudbeckia fulgida Ait. var. sullivantii (Beadle et Boynton) Cronq. `Goldsturm' was estimated using 74 randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) primers. Similarity indices suggest that cultivars of stokes aster are very closely related, with values for all pairwise comparisons of cultivars of stokes aster ranging from 0.92 to 0.68. One cultivar, `Omega Skyrocket', had markedly lower similarity indices from the other cultivars, ranging from 0.72 to 0.68. Similarity indices between stokes aster and Vernonia and between stokes aster and Rudbeckia were 0.44 and 0.50, respectively.
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