Evaluation of Genetic Diversity in Chinese Wild Apple Species Along with Apple Cultivars Using SSR Markers

Qiong Zhang, Jing Li, Yongbo Zhao, Schuyler S. Korban, Yuepeng Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


China, one of the primary centers of genetic diversity for the genus Malus, is very rich in wild apple germplasm. In this study, genetic diversity in 29 Malus accessions, including 12 accessions from 7 Chinese Malus species, 4 Chinese landraces, and 13 introduced apple cultivars, was assessed using a set of 19 single-locus simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers distributed across all 17 linkage groups of the apple genome. The number of alleles detected at each locus ranged from 2 to 11, with an average of 5.3 per SSR marker. In some accessions, 16 unique alleles were identified. Ten out of these 16 unique alleles (62.5%) were detected exclusively in wild species, indicating that these Chinese wild apple species have considerable genetic diversity and can be used in breeding programs to increase the genetic diversity of apple cultivars. Using 19 SSRs, an unweighted pair-group method with arithmetic average cluster analysis was conducted, and the resulting dendrogram revealed that all cultivars, except for Ef{cyrillic}peMeBckoe, were clustered together in the same group. The Russian cultivar Ef{cyrillic}peMeBckoe was closely related to the Chinese crabapple Baihaitang (M. prunifolia), with a high similarity coefficient value of 0.94. Of the two M. sieversii accessions used, one accession showed a close relationship to apple cultivars, while the other accession was closely related to wild apple species, suggesting the presence of a wider genetic diversity in Chinese M. sieversii species. The influence of SSR marker selection on genetic diversity analysis in this Malus collection was also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)539-546
Number of pages8
JournalPlant Molecular Biology Reporter
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Cluster analysis
  • Genetic diversity
  • Malus
  • SSR markers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Plant Science


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