Persia is the center of apple and pear diversity and this irreplaceable treasure needs to be protected

E. Fallahi, A. Gharaghani, H. Sheikhsofla, D. Hassani
The Persian Plateau in western and central Asia, which encompasses todayRSQUOs Iran, is the native land for apple and pear. In a four-year study during 1971 through 1975, the senior author travelled to various regions of Iran and conducted an exploratory study on climatic conditions of each growing region and described characteristics of hundreds of native apples and pear germplasm. That study was later followed by Iranian scientists, using more modern genetic tools for pome fruit identifications. In this process, a team consisting of the second author used the SSR allelic data to determine the population structure using STRUCTURE 2.2 software and genetic relationships based on a phenogram, using POPGENE 1.32 software. This investigation revealed a strong agreement between the population structure data and the phenogram, and demonstrated that Iranian apple cultivars and landraces have a closer genetic affinity with Malus sieversii from central Asia (east of Iran) and M. orientalis native to Turkey and Russia, than with other Malus species. The initial exploration, meshed together with the recent studies, showed a closer genetic and geographic affinity of the Iranian germplasm with M. sieversii and M. orientalis, together with their location on the Silk Trade Route, suggests that Iran is likely one of the original habitats in apple and pear domestication and these fruits were transferred from central Asia to the West via the Silk Road. These irreplaceable germplasm is being destroyed or already vanished due to arson, over-grazing, lack of overseeing and insufficient regulations. Therefore, they should be protected, preserved, and funded through internationally concerted channels. The effort can be similar to those practiced in the national germplasm centers in Corvallis, Oregon, Davis, California, and Cornell, Geneva in New York in the United States.
Fallahi, E., Gharaghani, A., Sheikhsofla, H. and Hassani, D. (2018). Persia is the center of apple and pear diversity and this irreplaceable treasure needs to be protected. Acta Hortic. 1190, 1-8
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2018.1190.1
apple origin, genetic diversity, Iran fruit, Malus × domestica, native habitat

Acta Horticulturae