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Front. Plant Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.01460

Genetic characterization of the apple germplasm collection in Central Italy: the value of local varieties

  • 1University of Perugia, Italy
  • 23A Parco Tecnologico Agroalimentare Dell'Umbria, Italy

In the last fifty years, intensive farming systems have been boosted by modern agricultural techniques and newly bred cultivars. The massive use of few and related cultivars has dramatically reduced the apple genetic diversity of local varieties, confined to marginal areas. In Central Italy a limited spread of intensive fruit orchards has made it possible to preserve much of the local genetic diversity, but at the same time the coexistence of both modern and ancient varieties has generated some confusion. The characterization and clarification of possible synonyms, homonyms and/or labeling errors in old local genetic resources is an issue in the conservation and management of living collections. 175 accessions provided by 10 apple collections, mainly local varieties, some of unknown origin, and well-known modern and ancient varieties, were studied by using 19 SSRs, analyzed by STRUCTURE, Ward’s clustering and parentage analysis.
We were able to identify 25 duplicates, 9 synonyms and 9 homonyms. As many as 37 unknown accession were assigned to well known local or commercial varieties. Polyploids made up 20 %. Some markers were found to be significantly correlated with morphological traits and the loci associated with the fruit over colour were related to QTLs for resistance to biotic stresses, aroma compounds, stiffness and acidity. In conclusion the gene pool of Central Italy seems to be rather consistent and highly differentiated compared with other European studies (FST=0.147). The importance of safeguarding this diversity and the impact on the management of the germplasm living collection is discussed.

Keywords: Malus×domestica (Borkh), SSR markers, local varieties, Genetic resources, Germplasm collection management

Received: 02 Jul 2018; Accepted: 12 Sep 2018.

Edited by:

SPYRIDON A. PETROPOULOS, University of Thessaly, Greece

Reviewed by:

Aureliano Bombarely, Virginia Tech, United States
Gerhard Buck-Sorlin, Agrocampus Ouest, France
Nicolò Cultrera, Istituto di Bioscienze e Biorisorse (IBBR), Italy  

Copyright: © 2018 Marconi, Ferradini, Russi, Concezzi, Veronesi and Albertini. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: PhD. Emidio Albertini, University of Perugia, Perugia, 06123, Umbria, Italy,