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      Genetic Distinctiveness Highlights the Conservation Value of a Sicilian Manna Ash Germplasm Collection Assigned to Fraxinus angustifolia (Oleaceae)

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          Abstract

          The cosmopolitan genus Fraxinus comprises about 40 species occupying several habitats in the Northern Hemisphere. With some species hybridizing and sharing genetic variants, questions remain on the species assignment of germplasm within the genus Fraxinus despite numerous species-specific assessments. A multidisciplinary approach was employed to provide a definitive insight into the genetics of an endangered Fraxinus “manna ash” collection, located in a rich plant biodiversity hotspot of the Madonie Mountains (Sicily). Although the collection size was small, genetic diversity, assessed by chloroplast (cpSSR) and nuclear (nSSR) microsatellites (SSR—Simple Sequence Repeats), allowed identifying three different chloroplast haplotypes, with one (H5) dominant, and several polymorphic loci, able to discriminate most of the local accessions studied. Molecular data were linked to cytofluorimetric and phenotypic evaluations and, contrary to popular belief that manna ash is Fraxinus ornus L., the germplasm currently used for manna production belongs to Fraxinus angustifolia Vahl. Interestingly, joint analysis of our genetic panel with a large European dataset of Fraxinus spp. suggested the presence of a possible glacial refuge in Sicily, confirming its importance as biodiversity source. Our results will be helpful for the design of long-term conservation programs for genetic resources, such as in situ and ex situ conservation, seed collection and tree reintroduction.

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          THE INTERPRETATION OF POPULATION STRUCTURE BY F-STATISTICS WITH SPECIAL REGARD TO SYSTEMS OF MATING

           Sewall Wright (1965)
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            Glacial refugia influence plant diversity patterns in the Mediterranean Basin

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              A simple method for the calculation of microsatellite genotype distances irrespective of ploidy level.

              Abstract Microsatellites are powerful molecular markers, used commonly to estimate intraspecific genetic distances. With the exception of band sharing similarity index, available distance measures were developed specifically for diploid organisms and are unsuited for comparisons of polyploids. Here, we present a simple method for calculation of microsatellite genotype distances, which takes into account mutation processes and permits comparison of individuals with different ploidy levels. This method should provide a valuable tool for intraspecific analyses of polyploid organisms, which are widespread among plants and some animal taxa. An illustration is given using data from the planarian flatworm Schmidtea polychroa (Platyhelminthes).
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Plants (Basel)
                Plants (Basel)
                plants
                Plants
                MDPI
                2223-7747
                14 August 2020
                August 2020
                : 9
                : 8
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Institute of Biosciences and Bioresources (IBBR), National Research Council, Corso Calatafimi 414, 90129 Palermo, Italy; loredana.abbate@ 123456ibbr.cnr.it (L.A.); francesco.carimi@ 123456ibbr.cnr.it (F.C.); sergio.fatta@ 123456ibbr.cnr.it (S.F.d.B.)
                [2 ]Department of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Sciences (SAAF), University of Palermo, Via Archirafi 38, 90123 Palermo, Italy; pippo.dinoto@ 123456virgilio.it (G.D.N.); rosario.schicchi@ 123456unipa.it (R.S.)
                [3 ]Institut National de Recherche Pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement (INRAE), Univ. Bordeaux, BIOGECO, 69 route d’Arcachon, F-33610 Cestas, France; myriam.heuertz@ 123456inra.fr
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: francesco.mercati@ 123456ibbr.cnr.it ; Tel.: +39-091-6574578
                [†]

                These authors contributed equally to this work.

                Article
                plants-09-01035
                10.3390/plants9081035
                7463994
                32824084
                c458aa9b-ff8f-4c16-a86e-6b8406c50d4a
                © 2020 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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