• conservation;
  • DNA;
  • Europe;
  • Greece;
  • indigenous vines;
  • PCR;
  • rescue gardens

Analysis of DNA microsatellites was used to assign genomic identity to the local grapevines (Vitis vinifera ssp. sativa) of the Holy Land. Most of the 24 analysed cultivars were sampled from the Indigenous Fruit Trees Rescue Gardens (Sataf collection) near Jerusalem. To determine the genotype identity of these cultivars, primers of the following microsatellites were used: VrZAG47, VrZAG62, VrZAG79, VVS2, VVMD5 and VVMD7. The amplicon sizes of the various microsatellites were measured by genotyping. The genetic similarity between cultivars within the local collection was computed and presented as a dendrogram. Three vines showed identical allele sizes for all six microsatellites. Two of these cultivars are likely to be genetically identical, whereas one, although potentially closely related, showed phenotypic difference at least in the colour of the berries. In comparing the allelic frequencies of the various microsatellite sizes with those of European cultivars (available in accessible web databases), it was found that the cultivar group most similar to the Holy Land grapevines is the Greek vine population. Historical and archaeological information indicates that the Sataf collection may represent only part of the expected diversity of local vines. It is thus possible that many of the missing vines still occur as unattended feral plants. © 2008 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2008, 156, 513–521.