The genetic relationships among peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch], almond [P. dulcis (Mill.) D.A. Webb or P. amygdalus (L.) Batsch] and 10 related Prunus species within the subgenus Amygdalus were investigated using simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers. P. glandulosa Pall. was included as an outgroup. Polymorphic alleles were scored as present or absent for each accession. The number of alleles revealed by the SSR analysis in peach and almond cultivars ranged from one to three whereas related Prunus species showed a range of one to 10 alleles. Results demonstrated an extensive genetic variability within this readily intercrossed germplasm as well as the value of SSR markers developed in one species of Prunus for the characterization of related species. Mean character difference distances were calculated for all pairwise comparisons and were used to construct an unrooted dendogram depicting the phenetic relationships among species. Four main groups were distinguished. Peach cultivars clustered with accessions of P. davidiana (Carr.) Franch. and P. mira Koehne. The second group contained almond cultivars. A third group included accessions of P. argentea (Lam) Rehd., P. bucharica Korschinsky, P. kuramica Korschinsky, P. pedunculata Pall, P. petunikowii Lits., P. tangutica (Spach) Batal., and P. webbii (Spach) Vieh.. P. glandulosa and P. scoparia Batal. were included in a fourth group.
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