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    Limiting the juvenile phase and reducing tree size are the two main challenges for breeders to improve most fruit crops. Early maturation and dwarf cultivars have been reported for many fruit species. "Early mature" and low vigor walnut genotypes were found among seedlings of Persian walnut. Nine microsatellite markers were used to evaluate genetic diversity among "Early Mature" Persian walnut accessions and provide a comparison with "normal growth" accessions. Six maturation related characteristics were also measured in "Early Mature" samples. Phenotypic traits and diversity indices showed relatively high levels of genetic diversity in "Early Mature" seedlings and indicated high differentiation between individuals. Seedling height, the most diverse phenotypic trait, has an important role in the clustering of "Early Mature" accessions. The "Early Mature" type had higher number of alleles, number of effective allele, and Shannon index compared to the "Normal Growth" group. The two types of studied walnuts had different alleles, with more than half of produced alleles specific to a specific group. "Early Mature" and "Normal Growth" walnuts had 27 and 17 private alleles, respectively. Grouping with different methods separated "Early Mature" and "Normal Growth" samples entirely. The presence of moderate to high genetic diversity in "Early Mature" walnuts and high genetic differentiation with "Normal Growth" walnuts, indicated that "Early Mature" walnuts were more diverse and distinct from "Normal Growth" samples. Moreover, our results showed SSR markers were useful for differentiating between "Early Mature" and "Normal Growth" walnuts. A number of identified loci have potential in breeding programs for identification of "Early Mature" walnuts at the germination phase.

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    Ebrahimi, Aziz; Zarei, Abdolkarim; Zamani Fardadonbeh, Mojtaba; Lawson, Shaneka. 2017. Evaluation of genetic variability among "Early Mature" Juglans regia using microsatellite markers and morphological traits . PeerJ. 5(2): e3834-. 15 p.


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    Persian walnut, SSR markers, Genetic diversity, "Early Mature", Cluster analysis

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