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Marcin Nowicki, Edward E. Schilling, Sarah L. Boggess, Logan C. Houston, Matthew L. Huff, Margaret E. Staton, Jayne A. Lampley and Robert N. Trigiano

The genus Chrysogonum is native to the eastern United States. Three entities have been recognized—either as three varieties of Chrysogonum virginianum or as two species, one of them with two varieties. The current study suggests that a fourth entity should be recognized. Several forms of the complex are in commercial trade as ornamentals. As very limited molecular information on Chrysogonum is available, we developed a set of genic simple sequence repeat markers (eSSRs) from de novo transcriptome sequencing. We tested a set of 17 eSSRs on a collection of C. virginianum genomic DNA samples from the three botanical varieties, and a new putative type observed in Tennessee, dubbed “Ocoee-type” for its geographic origin. The polymerase chain reaction and capillary electrophoresis analyses with downstream population genetics tools verified the usefulness of the eSSRs. By applying this approach, we showed recognizable variation within Chrysogonum, although it did not correspond exactly to previous infraspecific classifications. Finally, as demonstrated for the commercial cultivar Pierre included in the study, the eSSRs can be used for enhancing the future breeding or hybridization efforts of this ornamental plant.