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In this study, we report the use of random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) to determine genetic relationships in the genus Crataegus. Five species, including Crataegus monogyna, Crataegus meyeri, Crataegus aronia, Crataegus pentagyna and Crataegus pontica were chosen from northwest forests of Iran and analyzed. Nine RAPD primers reproducibly and strongly generated 101 discrete markers. Seventy six (76) of these were polymorphic (75.25%), with an average of 11.2 markers per primer. Jaccard’s distance coefficient based on RAPD markers indicated that the relative genetic distance between species is high, ranging from a minimum of 0.575 between C. monogyna and C. meyeri to a maximum of 0.728 between C. aronia and C. monogyna. Dendrogram was constructed based on unweighted pair group method analysis (UPGMA) from RAPD data. The range in similarity coefficient indicated high genetic distance among the species of this genus. However, low variation (0.575 to 0.728) in genetic distance for Crataegus in northwest forests of Iran is also evident.
Key words: Crataegus, RAPD, genetic variation, Jaccard’s coefficient.