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Keywords:

  • Genetic diversity;
  • inter-simple sequence repeat;
  • population structure;
  • wild pomegranate

Abstract

Pomegranate (Punica granatum L.), in the monogeneric family Punicaceae, is found in Iran, Afghanistan, India and Mediterranean countries. Iran is considered to be its primary centre of origin. In India, pomegranate occurs naturally only in the Western Himalayan regions of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand States. However, there is no information about genetic variation in wild pomegranate at population level. In this paper, we describe genetic diversity across natural populations of Indian pomegranate based on inter-simple sequence repeat (ISSR) markers. Forty-nine accessions representing eight populations from two regions were analysed using ISSR. Seventeen ISSR primers resulted in 268 polymorphic bands, with 87.01% polymorphism throughout the accessions. Pair-wise population genetic distances ranged from 0.05 to 0.45, with a mean of 0.25 between populations. amova and Nei’s genetic diversity analyses revealed higher genetic variation within populations than among populations. A higher genetic differentiation (GST) was observed between the spatially distant populations, indicating a low level of genetic exchange (Nm) among these populations. However, clustering of populations was not in accordance with their geographical affiliations in the tree. The results indicate that the ISSR method is sufficiently informative and powerful to assess genetic variability in pomegranate, and that patterns of genetic variability observed among populations of wild pomegranate from the Western Himalaya differ. Estimation of genetic variation reported here provides a significant insight for in situ conservation and exploitation of genetic resources for this economically important species as potential breeding material.