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Genetic variation of Taxus baccata L. populations in the Eastern Alps and its implications for conservation management

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The English yew (Taxus baccata L.) is an endangered rare tree species in Austria. More than 600 bud samples were collected from seven populations in three regions of the Eastern Alpine mountains for estimating their genetic structures by using isozyme gene markers. Nine gene loci encoding for seven enzyme systems were investigated. The revealed 32 alleles indicate a higher multiplicity of the east alpine gene pool compared with other European regions. English yew showed a high level of genetic variation, with a mean number of alleles per locus (A/L) of 2.7. A total of 76.4% of the loci were polymorphic, the average expected heterozygosity was (H e) 0.274 and the mean observed heterozygosity (H o) was 0.238. The relative proportion of genetic differentiation among the regions was found to be 6.2%, the level of gene flow was high (Nm=3.78) and the level of inbreeding (0.130) among the regions was medium. The obligatory out crossing (dioecious plant), the long generation time, the ability to regenerate from stump and the seed dispersal by birds and rodents might contribute to the high level of genetic variation found within the population. The conservation propositions are discussed with respect to the genetic structure and the poor recruitment of this species.
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Keywords: Conservation and management; endangered species; genetic variation; geographic variation; isozymes

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Silviculture, Department of Forest and Soil Sciences,University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria

Publication date: 2011-08-01

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