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Theor Appl Genet. 2008 Mar;116(5):657-69. doi: 10.1007/s00122-007-0699-6. Epub 2008 Jan 9.

Genetic diversity, structure and marker-trait associations in a collection of Italian tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) landraces.

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  • 1Dipartimento di Agrobiologia e Agrochimica, Universit√† degli Studi della Tuscia, 01100, Viterbo, Italy.


The study of phenotypic and genetic diversity in landrace collections is important for germplasm conservation. In addition, the characterisation of very diversified materials with molecular markers offers a unique opportunity to define significant marker-trait associations of biological and agronomic interest. Here, 50 tomato landraces (mainly collected in central Italy), nine vintage and modern cultivars, and two wild outgroups were grown at two locations in central Italy and characterised for 15 morpho-physiological traits and 29 simple sequence repeat (SSR) loci. The markers were selected to include a group of loci in regions harbouring reported quantitative trait loci (QTLs) that affect fruit size and/or shape (Q-SSRs) and a group of markers that have not been mapped or shown to have a priori known linkage (NQ-SSRs). As revealed by univariate and multivariate analyses of morphological data, the landraces grouped according to vegetative and reproductive traits, with emphasis on fruit size, shape and final destination of the product. Compared to the low molecular polymorphism reported in tomato modern cultivars, our data reveal a high level of molecular diversity in landraces. Such diversity has allowed the inference of the existence of a genetic structure that was factored into the association analysis. As the proportion of significant associations is higher between the Q-SSR subset of markers and the subset of traits related to fruit size and shape than for all of the other combinations, we conclude that this approach is valid for establishing true-positive marker-trait relationships in tomato.

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