Characterization and Assessment of Genetic Diversity of Wild Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) in Jordan
This study was conducted to survey and characterize wild populations of date palm in Jordan. Phenotypic parameters either vegetative, leaf morphology, physical and chemical properties of fruits, and genetic diversity within and among populations were also, analyzed. Ecogeographical survey showed that date palm trees are naturally growing in different locations across Jordan ranging in elevation from 390 m below sea level to 525 m above sea level with different levels of salinity. Eleven sites distributed all over the country were selected and the total number of populations studied was twenty four with three female trees randomly selected from each population. Results showed wide variations in morphological characters and in genetic diversity when using 12 Simple Sequence Repeat (SSR) markers. Differences were detected in almost all phenotypic traits. The results of the study indicated a high degree of independence among the geographical origin and morphological data; Genetic variation analysis showed clustering of trees collected from the same population and closely related geographical location. The cultivated date palm Medjool was closely related with populations from Wadi Alhazeem and Al Bokharieh location that form a distinct cluster separated from other studied wild date palm populations with similarity up to 72 %.