A sample of 124 Daucus carota L. accessions, including cultivated carrot [D. carota ssp. sativus (Hoffm.) Arcangeli] and related wild subspecies, using a variety of molecular markers was examined. Represented within the samples were wild accessions from 18 countries, 14 of 16 major root types of European origin, and examples of major North American and Asian cultivated carrot types. Amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) and inter-simple sequence repeat (ISSR) markers revealed extensive variation within D. carota. Although cultivated carrot and wild D. carota subspecies can cross freely, cultivated and wild carrots clustered separately, supporting the possibility that human selection for desirable horticultural traits has artificially reduced gene flow between cultivated and wild forms. Our analyses support the likelihood that North American D. carota populations arose due to introduction of weedy materials rather than escape of cultivated forms. With the exception of wild vs. cultivated types, no genetic alliances were evident in dendrogram topology. Furthermore, between and even within nonmapped marker classes, dendrogram topology predictions were not consistent. Generally poor correlations among root types, geographic origin, mitochondrial, plastid, and specific nuclear diversity and AFLP/ISSR data were also observed. We concluded that genetic diversity in carrot is extensive and relatively nonstructured in nature.
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