Fingerprinting using molecular markers is a highly effective method of cultivar identification that is a powerful aid to traditional methods based on morphology. Amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) is a robust and reliable method for generating molecular markers that has been used to evaluate many crops for a variety of applications. In this study, AFLP was used to develop and validate robust genetic fingerprints for poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzch) cultivars. Polymorphism selection was completed to facilitate the identification of useful polymorphisms and minimize future fingerprinting costs and time. Poinsettia is a highly variable crop subject to genetic drift and variable cultivars. Validation of polymorphisms to remove those associated with intracultivar variation improved the reliability of the fingerprinting. The result was a poinsettia AFLP database that defines the genetic fingerprints of 104 cultivars. Cluster analysis illustrated differentiation of most poinsettia cultivars tested. Selection of a subset of AFLP polymorphisms resulted in clustering of cultivars according to known origin and breeding program. This method has applications not only for cultivar identification for cultivar protection, and maintenance of cultivar uniformity, but also has the potential application of developing markers for important traits.
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