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Liu W.,Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences | Liu W.,Key Laboratory of South Subtropical Fruit Biology and Genetic Resource Utilization | Liu W.,Tropical and Subtropical Fruit Tree Research | Xiao Z.,Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences | And 16 more authors.

Litchi is an important fruit tree in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. However, there is widespread confusion regarding litchi cultivar nomenclature and detailed information of genetic relationships among litchi germplasm is unclear. In the present study, the potential of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) for the identification of 96 representative litchi accessions and their genetic relationships in China was evaluated using 155 SNPs that were evenly spaced across litchi genome. Ninety SNPs with minor allele frequencies above 0.05 and a good genotyping success rate were used for further analysis. A relatively high level of genetic variation was observed among litchi accessions, as quantified by the expected heterozygosity (He = 0.305). The SNP based multilocus matching identified two synonymous groups, 'Heiye' and 'Wuye', and 'Chengtuo' and 'Baitangli 1'. A subset of 14 SNPs was sufficient to distinguish all the non-redundant litchi genotypes, and these SNPs were proven to be highly stable by repeated analyses of a selected group of cultivars. Unweighted pair-group method of arithmetic averages (UPGMA) cluster analysis divided the litchi accessions analyzed into four main groups, which corresponded to the traits of extremely early-maturing, early-maturing, middle-maturing, and late-maturing, indicating that the fruit maturation period should be considered as the primary criterion for litchi taxonomy. Two subpopulations were detected among litchi accessions by STRUCTURE analysis, and accessions with extremely early- and late-maturing traits showed membership coefficients above 0.99 for Cluster 1 and Cluster 2, respectively. Accessions with early- and middle-maturing traits were identified as admixture forms with varying levels of membership shared between the two clusters, indicating their hybrid origin during litchi domestication. The results of this study will benefit litchi germplasm conservation programs and facilitate maximum genetic gains in litchi breeding programs. Copyright: © 2015 Liu et al. Source

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