Microsatellite (SSR) variation in a collection of Malus (apple) species and hybrids

S. C. Hokanson, W. F. Lamboy, A. K. Szewc-McFadden, J. R. McFerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


A collection of 142 accessions of 23 Malus species, derived hybrids and cultivar accessions from the USDA-ARS Plant Genetic Resources Unit's core collection, which represents an extensive range of Malus species, was screened with a set of previously described SSR (simple sequence repeat) markers. The markers were used to determine genetic identities, estimate genetic diversity, identify genetic relationships among the accessions, and determine the utility of SSR primers developed from Malus x domestica for making genetic assessments across the whole Malus genus. All eight primer pairs amplified multiple fragments when used in polymerase chain reactions with DNA from these accessions. High levels of variation were detected with a mean of 26.4 alleles per locus and a mean direct count heterozygosity across all eight loci equal to 0.623. The eight primer pairs used in this study unambiguously differentiated all but five pairs of accessions in this collection of 142 accessions of 23 Malus species, derived hybrids and cultivars. These SSR data were not useful in identifying genetic relationships among this diverse collection of accessions, with the majority of the accessions not clustering in ways concordant with taxonomic information and/or geographic origin. The resulting phenogram resolved only two meaningful clusters, for the taxonomically isolated Section Chloromeles and for M. fusca accessions, reflecting genetic relationships arising from geographic origin. The detection of identical accessions in the collection, which were previously considered to be unique, highlights the critical need to further bolster collections of certain Malus species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-294
Number of pages14
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001


  • Apple
  • Genetic relatedness
  • Germplasm management
  • Malus species and hybrids
  • Microsatellite markers


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