Assessing genetic diversity of wild southeastern North American Vaccinium species using microsatellite markers

Wild species representatives from Northwestern, Central and Southern Florida, and neighboring U.S. states were collected in multiple United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) exploration expeditions and are being preserved at the USDA, Agricultural Research Service, National Clonal Germplasm Repository in Corvallis, Oregon. Germplasm from these southeastern regions of North America is particularly vulnerable to loss in the wild due to encroachment of human development in key habitats and biotic and abiotic stresses from climate change. Fourteen simple sequence repeats (SSRs), previously developed from the highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) cultivar ‘Bluecrop’, were used to estimate genetic diversity and genetic differentiation of 67 diploid individuals from three species, including 19 V. elliottii, 12 V. fuscatum, and 35 V. darrowii accessions collected throughout the species’ ranges. Results from our analyses indicated that the samples from each species could be reliably resolved using genetic distance measures with ordination and neighbor joining approaches. In addition, we estimated admixture among these species by using Bayesian assignment tests, and were able to identify a mis-labeled accession of V. darrowii ‘Johnblue’, two mis-classified accessions (CVAC 735.001 and CVAC 1223.001), and four accessions of previously undescribed hybrid origin (CVAC 734.001, CVAC 1721.001, CVAC 1741.001, and Florida 4B CVAC 1790). Allele composition at the 14 SSRs confirmed that Florida 4B CVAC 1790, the donor of low chilling for the southern highbush blueberry, was the critical parent of US 74. Genetic diversity assessment and identification of these wild accessions are crucial for optimal germplasm management and expand opportunities to utilize natural variation in breeding programs.
Category: Genetic diversity
Authors: Bassil, N., et al.
Journal/Series: Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution
Publication Year: 2018

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