Application of Genomic SSR Locus Polymorphisms on the Identification and Classification of Chrysanthemum Cultivars in China

The Chinese traditional chrysanthemum is a notable group of chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum×morifolium Ramat.) in which the phenotypic characteristics richly vary. At present, there is a serious controversy regarding homonyms and synonyms within this group. Moreover, the current international chrysanthemum classification systems are not comprehensive enough to be used on Chinese traditional chrysanthemums. Thus, we first identified a broad collection of 480 Chinese traditional chrysanthemum cultivars using the unique DNA fingerprints and molecular identities that were established by 20 simple sequence repeat markers. Five loci, which distinguished all of the selected cultivars, were identified as the core loci to establish unique fingerprints and molecular identities with 19 denary digits for each cultivar. A cluster analysis based on Nei's genetic distance indicated that the selected cultivars were clustered according to their horticultural classification. Population structure analysis was subsequently performed with K values ranging from 2 to 14, and the most likely estimate for the population structure was ten subpopulations, which was nearly consistent with the clustering result. Principal component analysis was further performed to verify the classification results. On the basis of the Q-matrices of K = 10, a total of 19 traits were found to be associated with 42 markers. Taken together, these results can serve as starting points for the identification and classification of chrysanthemums based on the polymorphism of microsatellite markers, which is beneficial to promote the marker-assisted breeding and international communication of this marvelous crop.