Open Access Research article

Characterization of variable EST SSR markers for Norway spruce (Picea abies L.)

Silvia Fluch1*, Agnes Burg1, Dieter Kopecky1, Andreas Homolka1, Nadine Spiess1 and Giovanni G Vendramin2

Author Affiliations

1 AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, Health & Environment Department, Bioresources, 3430 Tulln, Austria

2 Istituto di Genetica Vegetale, CNR, via Madonna del Piano 10, 50019 Sesto Fiorentino (Firenze), Italy

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:401  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-401

Published: 12 October 2011



Norway spruce is widely distributed across Europe and the predominant tree of the Alpine region. Fast growth and the fact that timber can be harvested cost-effectively in relatively young populations define its status as one of the economically most important tree species of Northern Europe. In this study, EST derived simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers were developed for the assessment of putative functional diversity in Austrian Norway spruce stands.


SSR sequences were identified by analyzing 14,022 publicly available EST sequences. Tri-nucleotide repeat motifs were most abundant in the data set followed by penta- and hexa-nucleotide repeats. Specific primer pairs were designed for sixty loci. Among these, 27 displayed polymorphism in a testing population of 16 P. abies individuals sampled across Austria and in an additional screening population of 96 P. abies individuals from two geographically distinct Austrian populations. Allele numbers per locus ranged from two to 17 with observed heterozygosity ranging from 0.075 to 0.99.


We have characterized variable EST SSR markers for Norway spruce detected in expressed genes. Due to their moderate to high degree of variability in the two tested screening populations, these newly developed SSR markers are well suited for the analysis of stress related functional variation present in Norway spruce populations.