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Genetic variation in the endangered wild apple (Malus sylvestris (L.) Mill.) in Belgium as revealed by amplified fragment length polymorphism and microsatellite markers

Authors

  • Els Coart,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Plant Genetics and Breeding, Agricultural Research Centre, Caritasstraat 21, 9090 Melle Belgium,
      Els Coart. Fax: + 32 9272 29 01; E-mail: E.coart@clo.fgov.be
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  • Xavier Vekemans,

    1. Université de Lille 1, Laboratoire de Génétique et Evolution des Populations Végétales, Bâtiment SN2, 59655 Villeneuve d’Ascq Cedex, France,
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  • Marinus J. M. Smulders,

    1. Plant Research International, P.O. Box 16, 6700 AA Wageningen, the Netherlands,
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  • Iris Wagner,

    1. Pro Arbore Research Institute, Gustav-Adolf-Strasse 3, 01219 Dresden Germany,
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  • Johan Van Huylenbroeck,

    1. Department of Plant Genetics and Breeding, Agricultural Research Centre, Caritasstraat 21, 9090 Melle Belgium,
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  • Erik Van Bockstaele,

    1. Department of Plant Genetics and Breeding, Agricultural Research Centre, Caritasstraat 21, 9090 Melle Belgium,
    2. University of Ghent, Faculty of Agricultural and Applied Biological Sciences, Coupure Links 653, 9000 Gent Belgium
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  • Isabel Roldán-Ruiz

    1. Department of Plant Genetics and Breeding, Agricultural Research Centre, Caritasstraat 21, 9090 Melle Belgium,
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Els Coart. Fax: + 32 9272 29 01; E-mail: E.coart@clo.fgov.be

Abstract

The genetic variation within and between wild apple samples (Malus sylvestris) and cultivated apple trees was investigated with amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLP) and microsatellite markers to develop a conservation genetics programme for the endangered wild apple in Belgium. In total, 76 putative wild apples (originating from Belgium and Germany), six presumed hybrids and 39 cultivars were typed at 12 simple sequence repeats (SSR) and 139 amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) loci. Principal co-ordinate analysis and a model-based clustering method classified the apples into three major gene pools: wild Malus sylvestris genotypes, edible cultivars and ornamental cultivars. All presumed hybrids and two individuals (one Belgian, one German) sampled as M. sylvestris were assigned completely to the edible cultivar gene pool, revealing that cultivated genotypes are present in the wild. However, gene flow between wild and cultivated gene pools is shown to be almost absent, with only three genotypes that showed evidence of admixture between the wild and edible cultivar gene pools. Wild apples sampled in Belgium and Germany constitute gene pools that are clearly differentiated from cultivars and although some geographical pattern of genetic differentiation among wild apple populations exists, most variation is concentrated within samples. Concordant conclusions were obtained from AFLP and SSR markers, which showed highly significant correlations in both among-genotypes and among-samples genetic distances.

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