Partitioning of Allozyme Diversity in Wild Populations of Malus sieversii L. and Implications for Germplasm Collection

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science

One of the primary progenitors of the cultivated apple is Malus sieversii L., a species native to the forested regions of central Asia. Despite the horticultural importance of M. sieversii, little is known about genetic variation in this species. In this study, allozyme diversity at 18 loci was determined for 259 seedlings belonging to 31 sib families, each consisting of the set of offspring from a different open-pollinated maternal (seed) parent. Maternal parents belonged to 14 populations from four geographic regions. Genetic diversity statistics were computed from the resulting allele and phenotype frequencies. Cluster analysis of sib families showed that there was some grouping based on geographic region, but 16 of the sib families were most closely related to sib families from other regions. Analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) indicated that 85% of the enzyme variability was due to differences among sib families within populations and 15% was due to differences among regions. No variability could be assigned to differences among populations within regions. In addition, no alleles were found that were fixed in a region and unique to that region. These results suggest that plants belonging to M. sieversii effectively form a panmictic population. Consequently, a thorough sampling of a few large populations will efficiently capture most of the genetic diversity present in wild M. sieversii.

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