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Structure and genetic diversity in Colliguaja odorifera Mol. (Euphorbiaceae), a shrub subjected to Pleisto-Holocenic natural perturbations in a mediterranean South American region

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Abstract Aim 

Colliguaja odorifera Mol., a Euphorbiaceous shrub of central Chile, inhabits the matorral formation, growing at low altitudes on both Andean and coastal mountain range slopes. In the recent geological past, this region was subjected to climatic changes and geological disturbances that most probably caused population shrinkages on the Andean mountain slopes. This study tested the hypothesis that under such a scenario, existing populations should show lower genetic diversity in the Andean than in the coastal areas; these coastal populations being the potential source populations for recolonization. Location 

The study was carried out in central Chile by comparing the genetic diversity between the Andean and coastal areas, each represented by five localities distributed from 32°30′ S to 34° S. Methods 

Genetic diversity was estimated by DNA analysis using 18 dominant multilocus Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA (RAPD) loci, characterizing 73 genetic phenotypes. Results 

The comparison of the two matorral areas showed that Andean populations of C. odorifera have a subset of the genetic diversity found in the coastal populations. Andean populations also show a consistently lower genetic diversity, lower genetic distances and higher genetic structure, coincident with expectations based on the Pleisto-Holocenic perturbation regime. Main conclusions 

This first genetic analysis for South American mediterranean populations confirms the findings of previous floristic and palynological studies that identified refuge zones in the coastal mountain range of central Chile, a situation analogous with that occurring during periods of inter-glacial northward migration in Southern Europe.

Keywords: Arid diagonal; Chile; Diagonal árida; Euphorbiaceae; coastal refuge; expansión de rango; genetic distance; glaciaciones; glaciations; matorral; matorrial; neutral theory; range expansion; refugio costero; teoría neutral

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Programa de Magister en Ecología y Biología Evolutiva, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile 2: Centro de Estudios Avanzados en Zonas Áridas, and Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de La Serena, Benavente 980, Casilla 599, La Serena, Chile

Publication date: July 1, 2005

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