Aims: The aim of this study was to identify synonyms among grape cultivars growing in two distant regions, Spain and Italy, based on comparative analysis of genetic markers. The identification of synonyms and genetically-related cultivars should contribute to our understanding of their history and the preservation of biodiversity.
Methods and results: Using a set of 9 nuclear simple sequence repeats (SSR) markers, we compared the genetic profiles of major and currently neglected grape cultivars from two laboratories in Spain and Italy. A set of approximately 700 genotypes were analyzed and several putative synonyms were discovered. Among these, a clear synonymy was identified (confirmed by ampelographic observations) between two minor varieties: the Spanish Legiruela and the Italian Prié blanc, known in the past as Agostenga. Using an additional set of 25 nuclear SSR loci, two white cultivars, Albillo Real (or Albillo de Madrid) and Luglienga bianca, from Spain and Italy, respectively, showed a genetic relationship with Prié blanc/Legiruela. To further characterize this parent/progeny kinship, chloroplast SSR analyses were performed. Several hypotheses on the origin and movements of these traditional ancient grapes are discussed.
Conclusion: The Italian Prié blanc and the Spanish Legiruela cultivars correspond to a unique genotype. The occurrence in Spain under the name of Legiruela, a cultivar long-recognized in Italie, and the presence in both countries of very old grape varieties genetically related to this genotype, indicate that Prié blanc/Legiruela has moved from its original to actual growing area several centuries ago.
Significance and impact of the study: By identifying synonyms, accurately establishing the « true to type » of traditional grapes (used for commercial trade or maintained in collections), and studying their genetic relationships, the present work affects marketing and commercial exploitations related to grape cultivars. It also contributes to the knowledge of cultivar history and movements in ancient times.
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