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Suzanne L. Downey and Amy F. Iezzoni

Black cherry (Prunus serotina Ehrh.) is a common secondary forest species with a wide endemic distribution ranging from Nova Scotia south into Mexico, Ecuador, and Peru. Although planted in the United States for its valued lumber, black cherry is essentially a wild species with small fruit ≈6 to 10 mm in diameter. In contrast, in Mexico and Ecuador, domesticates of this species called Capulin, have much larger (2 to 2.5 cm in diameter) edible fruit. To date, no studies of the genetic diversity within North American black cherry or the ancestral origin of the Capulin types have been conducted. Simple sequence repeats (SSRs, also termed microsatellites) would be the marker of choice for such genetic diversity studies due to their hypervariability; however, generation of these sequence-based markers is expensive. Therefore, our objective was to determine if markers already identified in other Prunus L. species would be informative in black cherry. The black cherry germplasm screened consisted of selections originating from Michigan, Mexico, and Ecuador. A chloroplast DNA marker, originally generated from sour cherry (P. cerasus L.), amplified three different sized products in black cherry. Four of the eight nuclear SSR markers tested from peach [P. persica L. Batsch (Peach Group)], sour cherry, and sweet cherry (P. avium L.) also amplified and identified polymorphic markers. Together these four primer pairs resolved 54 putative alleles for the 66 black cherry accessions assayed. Success of the sweet cherry, peach, and sour cherry primers in identification of polymorphic markers in black cherry indicates it should be possible to use these markers for comprehensive molecular genetic studies in black cherry.