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Impact of geographical isolation on genetic differentiation in insular and mainland populations of Weigela coraeensis (Caprifoliaceae) on Honshu and the Izu Islands

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Aim  To provide insights into genetic differentiation between insular endemic Weigela coraeensis var. fragrans and its progenitor variety W. coraeensis var. coraeensis, the population genetic structure of both varieties was examined, and factors promoting genetic differentiation between the two taxa were explored.

Location  The natural range of W. coraeensis (sensu lato) throughout mainland Japan (Honshu) and the Izu Islands.

Methods  The analysis included 349 and 504 individuals across the mainland (Honshu) and the Izu Islands, respectively, using 10 allozyme and 10 microsatellite loci. The population genetic structure of W. coraeensis was assessed by analysing genetic diversity indices for each population, genetic differentiation among populations, model‐based Bayesian clustering or distance‐based clustering, and bottleneck tests.

Results  The level of genetic diversity in each of the populations on the Izu Islands was negatively correlated with geographical distance between each island and the mainland. The populations on the mainland and on the Izu Islands were genetically differentiated to a certain extent; however, the microsatellite analyses suggested that gene flow also occurred between the mainland and the islands, and among individual islands. These microsatellite analyses also suggested recent bottlenecks in several populations in both areas.

Main conclusions  The decrease in genetic diversity throughout the Izu Islands, which correlated with distance to the mainland, Honshu, may be the result of a repeated founder effect occurring at a series of inter‐island colonizations from north to south. The stepping stone‐like configuration of the islands may have played a role in the dispersal of the species. Geographical isolation by sea would effectively result in genetic differentiation of W. coraeensis between mainland Honshu and the Izu Islands, although some gene flow may still occur between Honshu and the northern Izu Islands. The differentiation process of the endemic plants on the Izu Islands is anagenetic but not completed, and the study of these plants will provide insightful knowledge concerning the evolution of insular endemics.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Division of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University, Aoba, Sendai, Japan

Publication date: May 1, 2012


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