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  • Author or Editor: Richard Novy x
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Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) has few qualitative, morphological characteristics that can be used to reliably distinguish among cultivars. Fifty-two silver-stained random amplified polymorphic DNAs (ssRAPDs) were used to assess genetic heterogeneity and relatedness within accessions of four major cranberry cultivars (`Early Black', `Howes', `McFarlin', and `Searles'). Rather than being represented by one genotype, as might be expected in an asexually propagated crop, each cultivar was represented by multiple genotypes, which in many cases did not appear to be closely related to one another. The intracultivar heterogeneity was often so extreme that clonal representatives of a cultivar would group with representatives of other cultivars following cluster analysis. Of the total ssRAPD variation, 9.7% could be attributed to variation among the four cultivar groups and 90.3% to variation within the cultivars. `Howes' was the only cultivar in which a consensus DNA fingerprint among regional representatives could be identified.

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The cranberry cultivar `HcFarlin', selected from a natural bog in Massachusetts in 1874, has become the most widely grown cultivar in the Northwestern U.S.A. Washington state growers have noted variable productivity among `McFarlin' bogs. The determination of whether there is a genetic basis for the variability has been made difficult by a paucity of reliable morphological descriptors in cranberry. A random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis of 45 clones sampled from 12 WA `McFarlin' bogs identified 17 unique RAPD profiles. Cluster analysis identified 7 groups having various numbers of distinct, but related individuals. Eight clones were found to have RAPD profiles identical to the cultivar `Howes' indicating varietal misclassification had occurred in some bogs. One group of clones that originated from bogs classified as “Good” or “True” Mcfarlin' by growers had RAPD profiles similar to those of representatives from WI and MA `Mcfarlin' bogs. RAPD analysis has shown that `McFarlin' is represented by several genotypes, suggesting that the observed variability in production may have a genetic component.

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WA State bogs of the cultivar `McFarlin' exhibit highly variable productivity. Yield and various fruiting characteristics were sampled in 14 WA `McFarlin' bogs, representing two growing areas. Significant differences were found for yield, fruit number/area, percent fruit set, flowers/upright, fruit/upright, fruit weight and seed number/fruit. The variable, flowers/upright, accounted for 69% and 75% of the observed variation for yield and fruit number/area, respectively. A multivariate analysis model accounted for 93% of the variation for yield with 3 variables: flowers/upright (69%), fruit weight (20%), and seed number (4%). Principal component analysis identified three `groups' based on fruiting characteristics. DNA fingerprinting suggests, that variability in yield and fruiting characteristics, has a genetic component.

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