• cpDNA diversity;
  • phylogenetic relations;
  • Prunus avium L.;
  • universal primers;
  • wild cherry

A population genetic study of chloroplast DNA was carried out in 23 wild populations of Prunus avium sampled from several European deciduous forests. An analysis of approx. 9% of the chloroplast genome detected mostly insertion–deletion mutations and one point mutation. In all, 16 haplotypes were detected. Six haplotypes were shared by two or more populations and 10 were unique. One haplotype was present in 21 of the 23 populations and 161 of 211 individuals, which probably indicates its ancient origin. The level of population subdivision, using unordered and ordered alleles, was low, GSTC=0.29 and NSTC=0.33, respectively. The difference between GSTC and NSTC is nonsignificant, indicating an absence of correlation between haplotype phylogeny and geographical distribution. The absence of phylogeographic structure in wild cherry may be attributed to long distance gene flow among populations by birds, animals and anthropogenic activities. The minimum-length spanning tree depicting the phylogenetic relationships between the haplotypes indicates the possible existence of two lineages represented by the haplotypes H3 and H4. The information about homogeneity or heterogeneity of populations in terms of haplotype constitution and detection of rare haplotypes in some populations will be useful for formulation of conservation and management strategies of wild cherry.