We analysed the properties of AFLP markers in Pinus sylvestris. Using primers with three selective nucleotides, the AFLP protocol produced large numbers of amplified bands and could only be used with a restricted number of primer combinations. Replacement of the EcoRI + 3 primer by an EcoRI + 4 primer halved the number of bands, facilitating analysis. The inheritance of all but about 8.4% of the amplified bands has been confirmed to be Mendelian. We compared band patterns among selected P. sylvestris trees from northern Sweden, two Asian species of Pinus and one species from the genus Picea. The dendrogram obtained was generally concordant with the taxonomic data, although the genetic similarity values between trees from different genera did not entirely follow accepted inter- and intraspecific relationships. This deviation was less pronounced using primer combinations that generated fewer bands. More than 69.1% of the bands that were polymorphic in two P. sylvestris trees or 29 of their F1 progeny were in a pseudo-testcross configuration and thus were useful for the development of a linkage map for each parent. These markers have been analysed in four other crosses, and 83% of the bands could be mapped in at least one cross. Depending on the level of heterozygosity of the parents, the efficiency of such mapping will vary, but the AFLP technique appears to be a powerful way to generate, very quickly, large numbers of markers that are useful for constructing and comparing linkage maps.
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