The wild potato germplasm of the series Acaulia maintained at the Centre for Genetic Resources, The Netherlands, currently consists of 314 accessions. This collection comprises seed samples of the species Solanum acaule (ssp. acaule, ssp. aemulans, ssp. palmirense and ssp. punae) and Solanum albicans collected from South America. In order to validate taxonomic classification, to investigate the extent of redundancy and to study the distribution of genetic diversity across the collection area, the entire collection was analysed with two AFLP primer pairs on two plants per accession. Within the entire sample a total number of 130 polymorphic bands were scored for the two primer pairs. An UPGMA cluster analysis grouped the majority of plants according to the species and subspecies. A total number of 16 misclassifications were identified, including four cases that did not seem to belong to the series Acaulia. Two accessions were found to consist of plants of different AFLP clusters. AFLP data also allowed the taxonomic classification of the subspecies of 97 accessions that previously were described as S. acaule only. For 126 accessions the two individuals studied displayed identical AFLP profiles. Forty six of these 126 accessions shared their profiles with both or single plants of other accessions. These were all tested for identical profiles for a third primer pair, resulting in 15 duplication groups consisting of a total number of 22 accessions and 14 single plants. Analyses of molecular variance (AMOVA) were performed to examine the distribution of genetic variation. Comparison of geographic distances between the collection site of plants and the number of AFLP polymorphisms revealed no consistent relationship between geographic distance and genetic diversity. AFLP analysis appeared to be an efficient method to verify taxonomic classification and to identify redundancies in the wild germplasm of the series Acaulia. Implications of the results for the ex situ conservation of wild potato germplasm are discussed.
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