Genetic Structure and Relationships among Wild and Cultivated Grapevines from Central Europe and Part of the Western Balkan Peninsula
The genetic diversity and relationship between wild (Vitis vinifera L. subsp. sylvestris (Gmel.) Hegi and cultivated (V. vinifera L. subsp. vinifera) grapevine in the western Balkan region and Central Europe have not been studied together previously, although this area has a rich viticultural past. Here, we studied wild grapevine populations sampled from their natural habitats in several countries of the western Balkan region and Central Europe. Their genetic diversity and structure were compared to cultivars that are traditionally in use in this region. A sample set of 243 accessions was genotyped at 20 nuclear microsatellite loci, including 167 sylvestris and 76 diverse vinifera cultivars. The genetic diversity of the wild grapevines was lower than that of cultivars by all genetic parameters. Both hierarchical and nonhierarchical clustering methods differentiated two main groups, indicating clear separation between wild and cultivated vines but also revealed clear gene flow between the cultivated and wild gene pools through overlaps and admixed ancestry values in the graphs. There was greater affinity to the wild grapes in Central European cultivars than in Balkan cultivars. Fine arrangement of the structure among cultivated grapevines showed differentiation among Central European and Balkan cultivars. These results confirm the divergence of wild grapes from vinifera and highlight the "crossroad" role of the western Balkan peninsula in the broader context of European viticulture.