Eighty-six almond accessions of diverse geographic origin, ranging from Central Asia to the USA, were genotyped in 15 simple sequence repeat (SSR) loci to compare genetic diversity parameters, characterize genetic differentiation, and examine factors responsible for the maintenance of genetic diversity and population structure in almond. The mean allele number was 18.86 alleles per locus. All but one primer demonstrated polymorphic information content higher than 0.7. Almond genotypes clustered according to their pedigree and geographic origin. STRUCTURE analysis determined nine genetically distinct subgroups within the studied genotypes including the Kyrgyz, Akdamar, Bademli, Hungarian, Monor, Italian, Moroccan, and Californian accessions and wild species and an admixed group. An AMOVA analysis confirmed that considerable genetic variation occurred within populations (71.30%), and genetic variation among populations was also significant (28.70%). The mean values of the fixation index (FST) varied between 0.38 and 0.55, indicating marked genetic differentiation among the populations. The among-population genetic differentiation based on allele sizes (RST) was significantly higher than that based on allele identities (FST) between the most groups, suggesting that stepwise mutations have also contributed to genetic differentiation. A Mantel test and a neighbor-joining tree showed no significant correlation between the geographic distance and the genetic distance (Rxy = 0.173, P = 0.226) and indicated that geographic distance among the assessed populations has little influence on their genetic differentiation (Rxy = 0.248, P = 0.194). Our data show drift, mutations, and massive gene exchange between several wild species and cultivated P. dulcis as crucial components of genetic differentiation. Slight losses of genetic diversity are attributable to geographic isolation, human selection and not to the relatively recent occurrence of self-compatibility. There was no indication of a major decrease in genetic variability in almond germplasm from Asia to Europe. The present results reveal that almond domestication avoided the occurrence of a genetic bottleneck although its risk is present in many subpopulations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology