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Free Content Genetic diversity of the extremely rare Habenaria dentata and the rare Habenaria linearifolia (Orchidaceae) in South Korea: implications for population history and conservation

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Background and aims – Since historical events often leave an indelible mark on levels of genetic diversity of plant populations, one may indirectly infer their evolutionary history with the help of current patterns of genetic diversity. The terrestrial orchid Habenaria dentata, an element of warm-temperate/subtropical vegetation, reaches its northernmost limits in the Korean Peninsula, and thus it is extremely rare there. As H. dentata was absent from the Peninsula during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), it is likely to be of post-glacial origin having arrived from either a single refugium or multiple refugia. However, its rare, temperate/boreal congener H. linearifolia might have persisted in situ in either macrorefugia or microrefugia on the Peninsula during the LGM. Methods – To test which hypothesis is most appropriate for each species, we investigated levels of allozyme-based (17 loci) genetic diversity and population genetic structure in the two only known populations of H. dentata and in 12 populations of H. linearifolia. Key results – No allozyme diversity was found in H. dentata (H e = 0.000), whereas H. linearifolia exhibited low within-population variation (H e = 0.060) and high among-population differentiation (F ST = 0.237). We found little association between populations in relation to their geographic location; several populations presented individuals belonging to different clusters. Conclusions – Our results suggest that H. dentata likely originated from a single ancestral population (perhaps from southern Japan or southern China) through post-glacial dispersal, whereas H. linearifolia probably survived the LGM in situ in microrefugia situated at low to mid-elevated regions. We further suggest that separate conservation strategies for each species should be employed, given that the two taxa have different ecological and demographic traits and harbour different levels of genetic diversity.
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Keywords: CONSERVATION; GENETIC DIVERSITY; HABENARIA; HISTORICAL EVENTS; POPULATION HISTORY

Document Type: Regular Paper

Publication date: 28 March 2018

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  • Plant Ecology and Evolution (a continuation of Belgian Journal of Botany, incorporating Systematics and Geography of Plants) is an international journal devoted to ecology, phylogenetics and systematics of all ‘plant' groups in the traditional sense (including algae, cyanobacteria, fungi, myxomycetes), also covering related fields such as comparative and developmental morphology, conservation biology, evolution, phytogeography, pollen and spores, population biology, and vegetation studies. It is published by the Royal Botanical Society of Belgium and contains original research papers, review articles, checklists, short communications and book reviews.

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