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Life history variation between species of the relictual genus Borderea (Dioscoreaceae): phylogeography, genetic diversity, and population genetic structure assessed by RAPD markers

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The genus Borderea consists of two species, B. pyrenaica and B. chouardii, taxa which have been previously considered as conspecific due to their overall close morphology. These two sole species of the rare genus of Dioscoreaceae are endemic to the Pyrenees (Spain, France). This mountain range likely operated as a refugium for these plants during the last glaciations. B. chouardii is only known from a single population in the Spanish Prepyrenees and has been classified as at risk of extinction in the Red List of Endangered Species (IUCN); B. pyrenaica shows a narrow distribution range in the central Pyrenees and Prepyrenees. We analysed genetic variation, population structure and differentiation in these two taxa using RAPD markers. Our study was conducted on the same seven populations for which very low levels of genetic differentiation were detected previously through allozyme analysis. By contrast, high levels of genetic variability were detected through the RAPD hypervariable markers. Twelve RAPD primers produced 112 distinct bands in the 397 surveyed individuals, totalling 395 different RAPD phenotypes. Only four bands were monomorphic across all samples of Borderea, whereas 21 of the polymorphic bands were species-specific (20 for B. chouardii, and one for B. pyrenaica). The largest genetic distances were those between the B. chouardii and the B. pyrenaica phenotypes. An analysis of molecular variance showed greater variance between groups (B. chouardii vs. B. pyrenaica, 76.08%) than within groups (3.60%). RAPD band specificity, phenotypic distances, and the partitioning of variance all support the taxonomic separation of the two species. Statistical evaluation of within- and among-population RAPD genetic variability in B. pyrenaica showed that genetic variability was higher within populations (>80%) than among them. No clear pattern of RAPD differentiation could be observed among the six studied populations of this taxon though slight differences in genetic diversity could be observed in the more isolated Prepyrenean populations compared with the more widespread Pyrenean ones. These results suggest a recent postglacial origin of the present B. pyrenaica populations. © 2003 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2003, 80, 483–498.
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Keywords: Borderea chouardii; Borderea pyrenaica; Dioscorea; Pyrenean flora; conservation of endangered plants; narrow endemics; postglacial diversification; tertiary flora

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Agriculture, University of Zaragoza. Miguel Servet 177, E-50013 Zaragoza, Spain

Publication date: 01 November 2003

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