The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS) tetraploid cherry (Prunus L. sp.) collection at Geneva, N.Y., contains ≈75 accessions of sour cherry (P. cerasus L.), ground cherry (P. fruticosa Pall.), and their hybrids. Accurate and unambiguous identification of these accessions is essential for germplasm preservation and use. Simple sequence repeats (SSRs) are currently the markers of choice for germplasm fingerprinting because they characteristically display high levels of polymorphism. Recently SSR primer pairs from sweet cherry (P. avium L.), sour cherry, and peach [(P. persica L. Batsch (Peach Group)] have been reported. Ten SSR primer pairs were tested on 59 tetraploid cherry accessions to determine if they could differentiate among the accessions. Scorable SSR fragments were produced with all primer-accession combinations. The cherry accessions exhibited high levels of polymorphism with 4 to 16 different putative alleles amplified per primer pair. Most of the putative alleles were rare with frequencies <0.05. Heterozygosity values ranged from 0.679 to 1.00, while gene diversity values ranged from 0.655 to 0.906. The primer pairs differentiated all but two of the 59 cherry accessions. Based upon the ability of the SSR data to differentiate the cherry accessions and the high level of gene diversity, we propose that all the tetraploid cherry accessions in the USDA/ARS collection be fingerprinted to provide a mechanism to verify the identity of the individual accessions. The fingerprinting data are available on the World Wide Web (http://www.ars-grin.gov/gen/cherry.html) so that other curators and scientists working with cherry can verify identities and novel types in their collections and contribute to a global database.
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