Genetic (SSRs) versus morphological differentiation of date palm cultivars: Fst versus Pst estimates
Keywords:date palm, genetic variability, genetic structure, PST index, population assignment
Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) is one of the oldest domesticated fruit trees. For future breeding program, knowledge on genetic structure of cultivars is necessary. Therefore, the present study was performed with the following aims: 1- To provide data on genetic diversity and genetic structure of 36 date palm cultivars, 2- To provide data on the association between fruit characteristics and the genetic features of the cultivars. We used nine SSRs and EST-SSR loci for our genetic investigation. The most of SSR loci obtained have a high Gst value (0.70), and therefore have a good discrimination power for date palm cultivar differentiation task. K-Means clustering grouped date palm cultivars either in two broad clusters, or in 16 smaller genetic groups. This was supported by delta K = 2 of the STRUCTURE analysis. AMOVA produced significant genetic difference among date palm cultivars (PhiPT = 0.70, P = 0.001). New genetic differentiation parameters estimated also produced significant difference among date palm cultivars (G’st (Nei) = 0.673, P = 0.001; G’st (Hed) = 0.738, P = 0.001). Test of assignment revealed that some of the cultivars have 33-66% misassignment, probably due to genetic admixture. Heatmaps of genetic versus morphological and agronomical characters in date palm cultivars differed from each other showing the cultivars morphological changes is not merely related to their genetic content. It points toward the potential role played either by environmental conditions or local selection practice. The new findings can be utilized in future conservation and breeding of date palms in the country.
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