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  • Author or Editor: Richard J. Henny x
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Ornamental Ficus L. is a group of lactiferous trees, shrubs, and woody root-climbing vines that are cultivated either as landscape plants in the tropics and subtropics or as foliage plants used worldwide for interiorscaping. With the recent rapid expansion of the ornamental plant industry, more new Ficus species and cultivars have been introduced. However, no study has thus far addressed the genetic relationships of cultivated ornamental Ficus. Using amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers with near-infrared fluorescence-labeled primers, this study analyzed the genetic relatedness of 56 commercial cultivars across 12 species. Forty-eight EcoRI + 2/MseI + 3 primer set combinations were initially screened, from which six primer sets were selected and used in this investigation. Most cultivars were differentiated by their AFLP fingerprints, and their relationships were determined using the unweighted pair-group method of arithmetic average cluster analysis. The 56 cultivars were divided into 12 clusters that correspond to 12 species, indicating that no interspecific hybrids of ornamental Ficus are in commercial production. The 12 species are genetically diverse, with Jaccard's similarity coefficients ranging from 0.21 to 0.43. However, cultivars within three species—Ficus benjamina L., Ficus elastica Roxb. Ex Hornem., and Ficus pumila L.—are genetically close. Twenty-seven of the 29 cultivars of F. benjamina and five cultivars of F. pumila had Jaccard's similarity coefficients of 0.98 or higher respectively. Nine cultivars of F. elastica shared Jaccard's coefficients higher than 0.96. These results indicate potential genetic vulnerability of these cultivars within the three species. Because there are increasing reports of invasive pests in the ornamental plant industry, strategies for conserving genetic resources and broadening genetic diversity of cultivated Ficus are discussed.

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