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Authenticity of Old Cultivars in Genebank Collections: A Case Study on Lettuce


This article in CS

  1. Vol. 51 No. 2, p. 736-746
    Received: Sept 8, 2010

    * Corresponding author(s): markvandewouw@yahoo.co.uk
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  1. Mark van de Wouw *a,
  2. Rob van Treurena and
  3. Theo van Hintuma
  1.  aCentre for Genetic Resources, the Netherlands (CGN)– Wageningen University and Research Centre, Wageningen, The Netherlands


Ex situ collections in genebanks conserve many old cultivars that had disappeared from mainstream agriculture before modern genebanks were established. The collections incorporated cultivars from many sources, such as botanical gardens and working collections, sometimes with little further information on their origin. Many old cultivars with identical or synonymous names are maintained in multiple collections and often more than once within collections. This research investigates the authenticity of old cultivars in genebanks using a large lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) collection as a case study. Accessions presumed to be identical, based on the cultivar names accompanying the accessions, were compared for their DNA marker profiles, based on amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLPs). Using the genetic similarity of these accessions, the probability of authenticity of the old cultivars maintained in the collection was estimated. Separate analyses were done for different classes of cultivars, on the basis of the year of release or the donor history of the cultivar. The two largest cultivar groups within the collection, Sans Rivale à Graine Blanche and Maikönig, were analyzed in detail. Nonauthenticity of the investigated cultivars appeared to be high. This was especially true for the oldest cultivars, but even for the cultivars released from the 1960s to 1990 it was estimated that approximately 10% was not authentic. Recommendations to improve authenticity of cultivars in ex situ collections were presented.

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