The genus Astilbe (Saxifragaceae) comprises about 13 species and is ranked consistently among the top 10 landscape perennials. Through extensive hybridization, selection and marketing, the lineage of many Astilbehas been lost. Subdioecious Astilbebiternatais the only species in the genus native to North America while other members of the genus are endemic to Asia and monoecious. Due to the unusual geographic distribution of the species and the variation in floral development among them, development of genetic markers using single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) would confirm phylogenetic relationships and establish lineage within the genus. Astilbespecies, hybrids, and cultivars were obtained from plant nurseries and botanical gardens across the country. To elucidate relationships among the genus, we conducted phylogenetic analysis of DNA sequences of the chloroplast gene matKand the internal transcriber spacer (ITS) of ribosomal rDNA genes. DNA was extracted, and gene primers trnK3914 and trnK2R were used to amplify matK, and primers 1406F and ITS2 were used to amplify the ITS1 region between 18S and 5.8S ribosomal DNA units. Both matKand ITS were sequenced for each plant specimen and sequences were aligned to identify nucleotide diversity and detect SNPs. Variation in nucleotide sequence for either gene yielded similar dendrograms. Nucleotide variation among the Astilbeutilized in this study has allowed the development of SNP markers that may be useful for fingerprinting unknown hybrids or cultivars in the industry, and may be used for species alignment within the genus.
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