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Genetic diversity at chloroplast microsatellites (cpSSRs) and geographic structure in endangered West Mediterranean firs (Abies spp., Pinaceae)

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We investigated patterns of genetic variation within and among the eight extant populations of the genus Abies in the western Mediterranean Basin. Using six chloroplast microsatellite (cpSSR) loci, a total of 22 alleles and 34 haplotypes was found among 225 individuals. The analyzed populations showed high levels of genetic diversity (mean He=0.84). Two clearly separated main groups corresponding to the three Spanish and the five Moroccan populations, respectively, were distinguished. A phylogeographic signal was evident and a Mantel test revealed a strong positive correlation between geographic and genetic distances of the eight populations. Analysis of Molecular Variance (AMOVA) assigned 85% of the total genetic variation to differences between continents. Within each continent, populations were remarkably little differentiated with the exception of one highly divergent Moroccan stand; the origin of this divergence requires further investigation. Our results document a strong effect of the Strait of Gibraltar on Abies differentiation in this region, whereas the high diversity within and the low differentiation among populations on each side point to a certain level of pollen-mediated gene flow among the extant stands. On the other hand, our analysis indicates that the population formerly assigned to the species A. tazaotana is, in fact, genetically very close to most A. marocana stands. We discuss implications of the observed population structures for conservation and management of West Mediterranean Abies taxa.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Departamento de Biología Vegetal y Ecología, Facultad de Biología, Universidad de Sevilla, Apdo. 1095, 41080-Sevilla, Spain 2: Department of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, Institute of Botany, University of Vienna, Rennweg 14, 1030 Vienna, Austria

Publication date: 01 May 2007

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