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  • Author or Editor: Qingfeng Niu x
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Pyrus betulaefolia is one of the most popular pear (Pyrus) rootstocks in China and other east Asian countries because of its good adaptability to versatile environments. However, the number of wild P. betulaefolia populations is decreasing because of habitat destruction and fragmentation. An urgent evaluation of P. betulaefolia genetic diversity and population structure is necessary to develop a conservation strategy for this important wild species. Thirteen simple sequence repeat loci were detected to infer the genetic composition of 18 P. betulaefolia populations in northern China. The average number of different alleles for each locus was 7.1. The number of effective alleles among loci ranged from 1.77 to 5.94. The overall mean values of expected and observed heterozygosity were 0.702 and 0.687, respectively. The Taihang Mountains, which run from northeast to southwest, acted as natural boundary in shaping the genetic diversity of P. betulaefolia in northern China. The distinct pattern, which was also observed in the distribution of chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) variation, appeared to be obscured by pollen-mediated gene flow in the distribution of nuclear microsatellite variation. Large populations with high allelic richness (e.g., populations BT, ZN, and QS) are considered suitable for in situ conservation because of the potential for adaptation to future environmental change. The smaller populations had mixed gene pools (e.g., populations GQ and XF) and should therefore also be considered for ex situ conservation. Preserving genetic diversity in seeds was proposed when field collections are fully characterized.

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