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Vyacheslav Gurevich, Uri Lavi, and Yuval Cohen

Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) is a major tree crop in arid regions of the Middle East and North Africa, having an important impact on the economy of many countries in these regions. Date palms are traditionally propagated through offshoots. The development of propagation methods through tissue culture resulted in massive expansion of date palm plantations. While most trees generated from tissue culture are normal and true-to-type, several typical abnormal phenotypes are detected. The present study applies amplification fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) analysis to characterize the genetic variation of two elite date cultivars, `Barhee' and `Medjool', as well as male clones, propagated from offshoots and through tissue culture. The two cultivars have very distinct AFLP band patterns. Most offshoots, as well as the tissue culture-propagated plants, have very similar band patterns, demonstrating a low level of genetic variation. However, a significant level of genetic variation was detected among `Medjool' plants generated from tissue culture. Several phenotypically abnormal trees were characterized by unique and different AFLP band patterns. The male clones are characterized by a high level of polymorphic bands. Genetic variation was also detected between various tissues of variegated `Medjool' trees propagated from tissue culture. The significance of these results, regarding the mechanism of the phenomenon and its relevance to agricultural practice, is discussed.

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Wagner A. Vendrame, Gary D. Kochert, Darrell Sparks, and Hazel Y. Wetzstein

Field evaluations were conducted of pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) C. Koch] trees regenerated via somatic embryogenesis to assess if the trees maintained clonal fidelity and exhibited true-to-type characteristics. Phenotypic and molecular comparisons were made of trees from two different tissue culture lines after 4 years in the field. Factors evaluated included shoot growth, leaf morphology, and susceptibility to fungal scab [Cladosporium caryigenum (Ellis & Langl.) Gottwald] and southern pecan leaf phylloxera (Phylloxera russellae Stoetzel). Genetic fidelity was examined using amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) analysis. Statistically significant differences were observed between the culture lines in phenotypic leaf characteristics (i.e., specific leaf weight and leaf length-to-width ratio), number of shoots per 1-year-old branch, and in the frequency of scab lesions on leaves. No between-line differences were observed in trunk caliper, average and total shoot growth, shoot length per cross-sectional area, or presence of phylloxera galls. AFLP analysis readily detected differences between culture lines. Cluster analysis generally grouped trees together that were regenerated from the same line. Trees within a culture line usually exhibited similar leaf characteristics, but not shoot growth or tree height. A few trees exhibited more extreme leaf characteristics and differed from each other. However, they were statistically similar to most of the other trees in the population evaluated. AFLP data revealed that some trees exhibited greater divergence and less similarity than other trees from the same line. The nature and significance of such variation at this time are not related to any detectable phenotypic differences.

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Shinya Kanzaki, Keizo Yonemori, Akira Sugiura, Akihiko Sato, and Masahiko Yamada

Japanese persimmon (Diospyros kaki Thunb.) cultivars are classified into four types depending upon the nature of astringency loss of the fruit. Among them, the pollination-constant and nonastringent (PCNA) type is the most desirable for fresh fruit consumption due to the trait of stable loss of astringency on the tree with fruit development. Lack of tannin accumulation is the main cause of natural astringency loss in PCNA-type fruit, and is qualitatively inherited. The PCNA trait is recessive to the non-PCNA trait. In this study, we investigated amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers for the trait of natural astringency loss of PCNA-type fruit using bulked segregant analysis (BSA) for efficient selection of PCNA type plants in a breeding population. A total of 128 primer combinations were tested and one AFLP marker was found to be linked to the dominant allele controlling the trait for astringency. This marker, EACC/MCTA-400, was absent in all of the PCNA-type plants tested, whereas it was present in about half of the non-PCNA-type plants tested. However, RFLP analysis using this marker enabled the detection of the other dominant allele, and all PCNA-type plants could be distinguished from the non-PCNA-type plants. Application of this marker system will be useful for the selection of PCNA-type plants in persimmon breeding.

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James M. Bradeen, Inga C. Bach, Mathilde Briard, Valérie le Clerc, Dariusz Grzebelus, Douglas A. Senalik, and Philipp W. Simon

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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Marianna Hagidimitriou, Andreas Katsiotis, George Menexes, Constantinos Pontikis, and Michael Loukas

The aim of the present study was to develop a reliable reference database to discriminate between the major Greek olive (Olea europaea L.) cultivars and reveal their genetic relationships, since Greece is considered a secondary center of diversity. In order to establish genetic relationships among the 26 Greek and eight international cultivars, four amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) primer pairs, 12 randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) primers, along with measurements from 10 morphological traits, were used. A total of 576 AFLP and 113 RAPD markers were produced. Genetic similarities, estimated using the Jaccard algorithim, ranged from 0.45 to 0.83 for the AFLP data and 0.27 to 0.87 for the RAPD data. The cophenetic correlation coefficients between the genetic similarities and the unweighted pair group method of arithmetic averages (UPGMA) phenograms were 0.77 for the AFLPs, 0.81 for the RAPDs, and 0.69 for the morphological traits. However, limited clustering similarities among the phenograms derived from the three methods were observed. This was also reflected by the low correlation between the three genetic similarity matrices produced (AFLP and RAPD, r = 0.39; AFLP and morphological traits, r = 0.11; RAPD and morphological traits, r = 0.02). According to the molecular results, olive cultivars are clustered according to fruit size but not according to geographical origin. Three of the cultivars tested, `Vasilicada,' `Throumbolia', and `Lianolia Kerkiras', were found to branch distantly to the others, according to the AFLP results, and can be considered as ancient Greek cultivars.

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Amnon Levi, Claude E. Thomas, M. Newman, O.U. K. Reddy, X. Zhang, and Y. Xu

Wide phenotypic diversity exists among American heirloom cultivars of watermelon (Citrullus lanatus var. lanatus). However, in published studies, low or no polymorphism was revealed among those heirlooms using isozyme or randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) markers. In this study, experiments with inter-simple sequence repeat (ISSR) [also known as simple sequence repeat-(SSR-) anchored primers] and amplified fragment-length polymorphism (AFLP) markers produced high polymorphisms among watermelon heirloom cultivars. ISSR (111) and AFLP (118) markers (229 total) identified 80.2% to 97.8% genetic similarity among heirloom cultivars. The phylogenetic relations based on ISSR and AFLP markers are highly consistent with the parental records available for some of the heirloom cultivars, providing confidence in the dendogram constructed for heirlooms based on similarity values. As compared with RAPD markers, ISSRs and AFLPs are highly effective in differentiating among watermelon cultivars or elite lines with limited genetic diversity.

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E.J. Parks, J.W. Moyer, and J.H. Lyerly

Fluorescent amplified fragment length polymorphism (F-AFLP) and microsatellites (SSRs) were used to evaluate new guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri W. Bull) cultivars. Ninety-five quality-selected polymorphic fragments from 10 F-AFLP+3 primer combinations were used to evaluate 100 cultivars representing a variety of colors, forms, and breeding programs. Jaccard similarities and unweighted pair-group method of the arithmetic average (UPGMA) clustering formed a dendrogram with three cultivar groups, to a large extent clustering the cultivars by breeder with a high cophenetic correlation coefficient. A small insert genomic library was created and 442 kb of new guinea impatiens sequence was screened for repetitive motifs, resulting in 14 microsatellite markers. A subset of 46 cultivars representing five commercial breeding companies and 11 cultivar series was selected for microsatellite analysis. Seven loci were polymorphic, with two to six alleles per locus. Although both methods were equally effective in distinguishing the cultivars from one another, the topologies of the dendrograms for the two methods were different. The topology of the AFLP dendrogram reflected possible relationships based on cultivar series and breeding company, while the SSR dendrogram did not. The objectives of this research were to develop and validate both F-AFLP and SSR methodologies for new guinea impatiens, identify markers that can be reliably used for fingerprinting, and create a database for future cultivar comparisons.

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Elizabeth J. Parks and James W. Moyer

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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Carlos A. F. Santos and Philipp W. Simon

Markers were placed on linkage groups, ordered, and merged for two unrelated F2 populations of carrot (Daucus carota L.). Included were 277 and 242 dominant Amplified fragment-length polymorphism (AFLP) markers and 10 and eight codominant markers assigned to the nine linkage groups of Brasilia × HCM and B493 × QAL F2 populations, respectively. The merged linkage groups were based on two codominant markers and 28 conserved dominant AFLP markers (based upon sequence and size) shared by both populations. The average marker spacing was 4.8 to 5.5 cM in the four parental coupling phase maps. The average marker spacing in the six merged linkage groups was 3.75 cM with maximum gaps among linkage groups ranging from 8.0 to 19.8 cM. Gaps of a similar size were observed with the linkage coupling phase maps of the parents, indicating that linkage group integration did not double the bias which comes with repulsion phase mapping. Three out of nine linkage groups of carrot were not merged due to the absence of common markers. The six merged linkage groups incorporated similar numbers of AFLP fragments from the four parents, further indicating no significant increase in bias expected with repulsion phase linkage. While other studies have merged linkage maps with shared AFLPs of similar size, this is the first report to use shared AFLPs with highly conserved sequence to merge linkage maps in carrot. The genome coverage in this study is suitable to apply quantitative trait locus analysis and to construct a cross-validated consensus map of carrot, which is an important step toward an integrated map of carrot.

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Jaladet M.S. Jubrael, Sripada M. Udupa, and Michael Baum

Currently, the identification and characterization of date palm varieties rely on a small number of morphological traits, mainly of fruit, which are complex and greatly influenced by the environment. As a result, different varietal names may actually refer to the same variety while different varieties may have the same name. Therefore, new descriptors like molecular markers are required to identify, characterize, and estimate genetic diversity in this crop. Here we used amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers to discriminate 18 Iraqi date palm varieties and to estimate the genetic relationship among the varieties. A total of 122 polymorphic AFLP loci were scored, with an average of 17.4 polymorphic loci per primer combination. The use of any one of the four combinations, P101(aacg)/M95(aaaa), P74(ggt)/M95(aaaa), P73(ggg)/M95(aaaa), or P100(aacc)/M95(aaaa), was sufficient to uniquely identify all the varieties. Jaccard's genetic similarity index ranged from 0.108 to 0.756, indicating moderate to diverse relationships. Estimation of average proportion of fixed recessive AFLP loci indicated that most of the loci in variety `Chipchab' were fixed, whereas most of the loci in `Jamal Al-Dean' could be heterozygous and in-between in other varieties. Unweighted pair group method with arithmatic mean (UPGMA) analysis ordered the date palm varieties first into two broad groups at 27% similarity levels. One group consisted of seven varieties and the second group consisted of the remaining 11 varieties of date palm. These results showed that the AFLP technique is an efficient method for varietal identification and estimating genetic relationships in date palm.