Comparison of allozyme, RFLP, and RAPD markers for revealing genetic variation within and between trembling aspen and bigtooth aspen

Z. Liu, G. R. Furnier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

180 Scopus citations


We examined genetic variation in allozyme loci, nuclear DNA restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs), and random amplified polymorphic DNAs (RAPDs) in 130 trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides) and 105 bigtooth aspen (P. grandidentata) trees. In trembling aspen 10 out of 13 allozyme loci assayed (77%) were polymorphic (P), with 2.8 alleles per locus (A) and an expected heterozygosity (He) of 0.25. In contrast, bigtooth aspen had a much lower allozyme genetic variability (P=29%; A=1.4; He=0.08). The two species could be distinguished by mutually exclusive alleles at Idh-1, and bigtooth aspen has what appears to be a duplicate 6PG locus not present in trembling aspen. We used 138 random aspen genomic probes to reveal RFLPs in HindIII digests of aspen DNA. The majority of the probes were from sequences of low copy number. RFLP results were consistent with those of the allozyme analyses, with trembling aspen displaying higher genetic variation than bigtooth aspen (P=71%, A=2.7, and He=0.25 for trembling aspen; P=65%, A=1.8, and He=0.13 for bigtooth aspen). The two species could be distinguished by RFLPs revealed by 21 probes (15% of total probes assayed). RAPD patterns in both species were studied using four arbitrary decamer primers that revealed a total of 61 different amplified DNA fragments in trembling aspen and 56 in bigtooth aspen. Assuming a Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, estimates of P=100%, A=2, and He=0.30 in trembling aspen and P=88%, A=1.9, and He=0.31 in bigtooth aspen were obtained from the RAPD data. Five amplified DNA fragments were species diagnostic. All individuals within both species, except for 2 that likely belong to the same clone, could be distinguished by comparing their RAPD patterns. These results indicate that (1) RFLPs and allozymes reveal comparable patterns of genetic variation in the two species, (2) trembling aspen is more genetically variable than bigtooth aspen at both the allozyme and DNA levels, (3) one can generate more polymorphic and species-specific loci with DNA markers than with allozymes in aspen, and (4) RAPDs provide a very powerful tool for “fingerprinting” aspen individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-105
Number of pages9
JournalTheoretical and Applied Genetics: International Journal of Plant Breeding Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Isozyme
  • Populus grandidentata
  • Populus tremuloides
  • Random amplified polymorphic DNA
  • Restriction fragment length polymorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Genetics


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