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Morphological and molecular evaluation of the Far East fruit genetic resources of Lonicera caerulea L.—vegetation, ethnobotany, use and conservation

Holubec, V., Smekalova, T., Leisova-Svobodova, L.
Genetic resources and crop evolution 2019 v.66 no.1 pp. 121-141
Lonicera caerulea, amplified fragment length polymorphism, breeding, cluster analysis, cultivars, ecotypes, ethnobotany, fruits, health foods, herbaria, in situ conservation, islands, phenotype, phytosociology, sensory evaluation, East Asia, Russia
Blue honeysuckle, Lonicera caerulea L. s.l. has a high nutritional and medicinal value of the fruits and a very high organoleptic evaluation may enable to fill gaps in the health food market. A joint project was undertaken in the north-eastern part of its distribution in Kamchatka and Sakhalin. The localities were characterised ecologically, phytosociological relevés were noted and threat factors were assessed as a prerequisite for in situ conservation. Ninety-one samples were collected for herbarium, propagation in vitro and molecular characterisation. An additional 20 available Russian fruit cultivars were evaluated for comparison with ecotypes. The sites of blue honeysuckle differ ecologically and geobotanically between Kamchatka and Sakhalin. Phenotyping on sites and in cultivation revealed a great diversity in morphologic characters. It is possible to distinguish between genotypes from Sakhalin and Kamchatka by a combination of characters and thus our data support the taxonomic concept on the subspecific level. It is possible to classify the found genotypes of Lonicera caerulea into two geographical subspecies: L. caerulea subsp. kamtschatica (Pojark.) Plekhanova, and another subspecies, L. caerulea L. subsp. ochotensis Smekal., Holubec et Svobodova, subsp. nova, with distribution in Sakhalin and the adjacent Kuril Islands. Cluster analysis and Principal Coordinate analysis based on AFLP data indicate remarkable differences between L. caerulea populations from Kamchatka and Sakhalin. It was supported also by AMOVA analysis and by the exact test of population differentiation (p < 0.01). The top 12 genotypes were selected based on fruit characters, 10 from Kamchatka and 2 from Sakhalin for further use in breeding.