The European project SAFENUT was aimed at increasing the knowledge on the European germplasm of hazelnut and almond. In this paper the results of the genetic characterisation of the hazelnut germplasm are presented with particular emphasis on the Italian one. A total of 295 accessions, including 129 local landraces rescued on farm and 166 accessions with cultivar names from germplasm collections, were DNA-typed using 10 SSR loci selected for their high polymorphism. The molecular markers identified 77 unique genotypes among the 166 accessions with cultivar names due to several duplications of the same cultivar and to cases of synonymy or mislabelling. For 89 out of 295 accessions the genetic identity was confirmed, while 123 accessions were classified as mislabelled or possible new cases of synonymy. Seventy eight accessions presented a new genotype and 5 where sports of known cultivars. The results enabled the correction of the main European collections and started the process of rescue of new germplasm. Future work will also consider data obtained from chemical and carpological characterisation with the aim of using the genetic resources either for cultivation or as material in breeding programs.
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