The aim of this study was the evaluation of the efficacy and efficiency of different techniques for the characterization of Castanea sativa. The studied plants were representative of 6 Italian cultivars. Trees were 120-150 years old, grown in homogeneous environmental conditions and managed with the same agronomic techniques. The genetic characterization was performed by multiplex analysis of seven microsatellite loci isolated in Castanea sativa and Quercus petraea. Morphological observations were carried out on leaves and nuts, considering both quantitative measures and qualitative traits of the nut. Concerning the main quantitative nut descriptors, differences between sampled individuals were significant for all of the observed traits, and the variability within the cultivar was very high. DNA analysis was very effective for the characterization of the varieties and revealed the existence of 10 genotypes in 6 cultivars; cases were observed either of intra-varietal polymorphism or of misnaming.
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