Six date varieties from Egypt, one `Deglet Noor' and four `Medjool' date accessions from California, and 66 accessions of `Medjool' date from Morocco, the country of origin of `Medjool' date, were examined using four sets of fluorescent labeled amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers. A total of 402 AFLP bands were generated and 160 were polymorphic (39.8%). The 66 `Medjool' accessions from Morocco shared minimum 79% of genetic similarity. These results support the hypothesis that `Medjool' date is a landrace variety and not a genetically uniform variety. `Medjool' is the first confirmed landrace variety of date palm worldwide. This raises the possibility that other landrace varieties of date palm may exist in different date-growing areas and in centers of diversity. The confirmation of a landrace variety of date palm also has significant impact on future date palm germplasm collection and preservation. The mechanism(s) creating the genetic variation within `Medjool' accessions remains unknown. One possible mechanism is that spontaneous genetic changes could occur frequently within vegetative tissues of date palm like offshoots under high temperature and drought stresses.
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