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  • Author or Editor: Emmanouil N. Tzitzikas x
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Seventeen simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers were used to assess the genetic diversity and population structure among traditional Greek and Cypriot melon cultigens (Cucumis melo L.). All SSR markers were polymorphic with a total number of 81 alleles, whereas all cultigens could be distinguished with at least one SSR, except cultigens 43 and 41. Reference accessions showed larger genetic variability with an average of four alleles per locus and 0.65 gene of diversity compared with an average of 2.47 alleles per locus and 0.30 of gene diversity for the Greek/Cypriot cultigens. Observed heterozygosity was very low, indicating a lack of outcrossing, at least in recent times. Unrooted neighbor-joining tree analysis and population structure analysis clustered the cultigens and the reference genotypes into five groups. All cultigens could be distinguished; the Cypriot cultigens were more closely related to the inodorus ‘Piel de Sapo’, whereas the Greek cultigens were located in an intermediate position between the inodorus ‘Piel de Sapo’ and the cantalupensis ‘Védrantais’. The cultigen ‘Kokkini’ was the most divergent among the Greek and Cypriot cultigens. This association between geographic origin and genetic similarity among Greek and Cypriot cultigens indicates geographic isolation. Most of the cultivars from the same cultivar group (i.e., inodorus, cantalupensis) clustered together, but some exceptions were found, suggesting that former inodorus landraces would have been transformed to cantalupensis as a result of intercrossing and further selection by farmers. Results of population structure analysis support mixing between cantalupensis and inodorus. ‘Agiou Basileiou’, an inodorus cultigen, was assigned to the subpopulation IV/II of which II is a pure cantalupensis subpopulation. Greek and Cypriot melon cultigens were developed from a broader germplasm base than western Mediterranean cultivars and exhibited useful for melon breeding programs genetic variability.

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