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New insights into the genetic diversity and species identification of the native apricots in Southern Xinjiang of China

Author(s): Ling Guo, Hui Li, Zheng-rong Luoa

Apricot is a staple stone fruit crop cultivated in Southern Xinjiang of China. This crop is important for the rural communities, as they generate significant employment and income. Here, seventy-eight apricot genotypes, including seventy-six common apricots (Prunus armeniaca L.) and two purple apricots (Prunus dasycarpa Ehrh.), were mainly collected from Aksu, Kashgar, Hetian and Bayingolin. Start Codon Targeted (SCoT) markers and ITS (internal transcribed spacers) sequences were used to investigate the genetic diversity and species identification respectively. Based on POPGENE showed that apricot cultivars from Aksu group exhibited the highest genetically diverse as compared with other groups, cluster analysis of SCoT markers (basede on UPGMA and PCoA method) showed that these apricot cultivars could be divided into three major clusters, which was in agreement with their geographic distribution and pedigrees. It was indicated that there were possible three primary diversity centers in the area: Aksu, Kashgar and Hetian, and also possible introgression among these populations. Furthermore, based on the complete ITS sequences, the phylogenetic analysis showed that P. dasycarpa clustered separated from other the section armeniaca of species. Therefore, it was proposed that P. dasycarpa would be a hybrid species. Our results indicated that SCoT markers are informative and could be used to evaluate genetic diversity of apricots, and ITS could be used effectively to identify P. dasycarpa. These results will provide much more useful information for the native apricots protection and utilization strategies.