Genetic characterization of chestnut (Castanea sativa Mill.) orchards and traditional nut varieties in El Bierzo, a glacial refuge and major cultivation site in northwestern Spain
This paper presents a detailed genetic study of Castanea sativa in El Bierzo, a major nut production region with interesting features. It is located within a glacial refuge at one extreme of the distribution area (northwest Spain); it has a centenary tradition of chestnut management; and more importantly, it shows an unusual degree of genetic isolation. Seven nuclear microsatellite markers were selected to analyze the genetic variability and structure of 169 local trees grafted for nut production. We analyzed in the same manner 62 local nuts. The selected loci were highly discriminant for the genotypes studied, giving a combined probability of identity of 6.1 × 10−6. An unprecedented density of trees was sampled for this project over the entire region, and nuts were collected representing 18 cultivars marketed by local producers. Several instances of misclassification by local growers were detected. Fixation index estimates and analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) data are supportive of an unexpectedly high level of genetic differentiation in El Bierzo, larger than that estimated in a previous study with broader geographical scope but based on limited local sampling (Pereira-Lorenzo et al., Tree Genet Genomes 6: 701–715, 2010a). Likewise, we have determined that clonality due to grafting had been previously overestimated. In line with these observations, no significant spatial structure was found using both a model-based Bayesian procedure and Mantel’s tests. Taken together, our results evidence the need for more fine-scale genetic studies if conservation strategies are to be efficiently improved.
This research was financed by the Foundation Ciudad de la Energía (CIUDEN) from the Spanish Government. Julia Quintana was the recipient of a predoctoral fellowship from CIUDEN. We thank Dr. Pablo González-Jara for helpful comments and Begoña Prieto for excellent technical assistance. We are indebted to Drs. Avelino García and Luis del Riego for their advice and support throughout this work.
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