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Genet Mol Res. 2016 Jun 3;15(2). doi: 10.4238/gmr.15027786.

Genetic divergence between Mexican Opuntia accessions inferred by polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis.

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Laboratorio de Biología Molecular, Departamento de Fitotecnia, Universidad Autónoma Chapingo, Texcoco, Mexico.


Molecular methods are powerful tools in characterizing and determining relationships between plants. The aim of this study was to study genetic divergence between 103 accessions of Mexican Opuntia. To accomplish this, polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of three chloroplast intergenic spacers (atpB-rbcL, trnL-trnF, and psbA-trnH), one chloroplast gene (ycf1), two nuclear genes (ppc and PhyC), and one mitochondrial gene (cox3) was conducted. The amplified products from all the samples had very similar molecular sizes, and there were only very small differences between the undigested PCR amplicons for all regions, with the exception of ppc. We obtained 5850 bp from the seven regions, and 136 fragments were detected with eight enzymes, 37 of which (27.2%) were polymorphic. We found that 40% of the fragments from the chloroplast regions were polymorphic, 9.8% of the bands detected in the nuclear genes were polymorphic, and 20% of the bands in the mitochondrial locus were polymorphic. trnL-trnF and psbA-trnH were the most variable regions. The Nei and Li/Dice distance was very short, and ranged from 0 to 0.12; indeed, 77 of the 103 genotypes had the same genetic profile. All the xoconostle accessions (acidic fruits) were grouped together without being separated from three genotypes of prickly pear (sweet fruits). We assume that the genetic divergence between prickly pears and xoconostles is very low, and question the number of Opuntia species currently considered in Mexico.

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