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Range-wide genetic structure in a north-east Asian spruce (Picea jezoensis) determined using nuclear microsatellite markers

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Abstract Aim 

We used microsatellite markers to determine the range-wide genetic structure of Picea jezoensis and to test the hypothesis that the past population history of this widespread cold-temperate spruce has resulted in a low level of genetic variation and in imprints of inbreeding and bottlenecks in isolated marginal populations. Location 

The natural range of the three infraspecific taxa of P. jezoensis throughout north-east Asia, including isolated marginal populations. Methods 

We analysed a total of 990 individuals across 33 natural populations using four nuclear microsatellite loci. Population genetic structure was assessed by analysing genetic diversity indices for each population, examining clustering (model-based and distance-based) among populations, evaluating signals of recent bottlenecks, and testing for isolation by distance (IBD). Results 

The 33 populations were clustered into five groups. The isolated marginal groups of populations (in Kamchatka, Kii in Japan and South Korea) exhibited low levels of allelic richness and gene diversity and a complete or almost complete loss of rare alleles. A recent bottleneck was detected in the populations in Hokkaido across to mid-Sakhalin. The IBD analysis revealed that genetic divergence between populations was higher for populations separated by straits. Main conclusions 

Picea jezoensis showed a higher level of genetic differentiation among populations (FST = 0.101) than that observed in the genus Picea in general. This might be attributable to the fact that historically the straits around Japan acted as barriers to the movement of seeds and pollen. The low levels of genetic diversity in the isolated marginal population groups may reflect genetic drift that has occurred after isolation. Evidence of a significant bottleneck between the Hokkaido and mid-Sakhalin populations implies that the cold, dry climate in the late Pleistocene resulted in the decline and contraction of populations, and that there was a subsequent expansion followed by a founder effect when conditions improved. The high polymorphism observed in P. jezoensis nuclear microsatellites revealed cryptic genetic structure that organellar DNA markers failed to identify in a previous study.
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Keywords: Bottleneck; Picea jezoensis; genetic diversity; genetic structure; isolated marginal populations; north-east Asia; nuclear microsatellites; phylogeography

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Forest Genetics, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Ibaraki 2: Graduate School of Agriculture, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 3: Forest Bio-Research Center, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Ibaraki 4: Forest Dynamics and Diversity Group, Hokkaido Research Center, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Sapporo, Japan 5: Department of Environmental Resource Botany, College of Life Sciences, Nankai University, Tianjin, China 6: Institute of Marine Geology and Geophysics, Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia 7: The University Forest in Hokkaido, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Hokkaido, Japan

Publication date: 01 May 2009

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