Aim: Assessment of the genetic diversity and relationships in a group of 31 Bulgarian grape accessions through microsatellite markers.
Methods and results: Thirty-one accessions, including 20 old rare local and 11 newly bred varieties were characterized through 13 nuclear and 5 chloroplast microsatellite loci. The genetic diversity (0.81±0.01) obtained for the investigated group of cultivars was comparable to those reported for other grapevine germplasms. The low PI value (1.0x10-16) allowed proper genetic identification and determination of synonyms. Microsatellite analysis of the 31 accessions resulted in 26 unique genotypes and 2 groups of synonyms. Four cases of supposed synonymy with local Bulgarian and foreign cultivars were rejected. Three chlorotypes, B, C and D, were defined among the studied cultivars, with a prevalence of chlorotype C (62%).
Conclusion: The high genetic diversity found in the set of old rare grapevines demonstrated their importance as a rich source of alleles for breeding. The pattern of chlorotype distribution observed among local varieties confirmed the previous results and supports the hypothesis of an Eastern origin of local Bulgarian cultivars.
Significance and impact of the study: The obtained results provide an important support for the preservation of grape biodiversity in Bulgaria as well as for the clarification of genetic relationships between local and foreign cultivars.
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