, Volume 298, Issue 4, pp 703-712
Date: 05 Jan 2012

Admixture of genetic lineages of different glacial origin: a case study of Abies alba Mill. in the Carpathians

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Abstract

Genetic exchange between divergent lineages of silver fir (Abies alba Mill.) was studied in the Ukrainian Carpathians where two expanding populations originating from different glacial refugia meet. The study included 33 silver fir populations from Ukraine, Romania and Slovakia which were investigated using the maternally inherited mitochondrial nad5-4 marker and biparentally inherited nuclear microsatellites. The boundary between mitochondrial lineages is very sharp; only six populations containing a mixture of different haplotypes were found. Bayesian analysis of population structure based on seven nSSR loci revealed the existence of two clusters which coincided fairly well with mitochondrial lineages. Both haplotype frequencies and proportions of clusters identified by the Bayesian analysis exhibited a clinal transition over the contact zone, with cline widths of 17.6 km for mitochondrial haplotype frequencies (reflecting gene flow by seeds) and 119.6 km for Bayesian clusters based on nSSR (reflecting gene flow by pollen). Allelic richness and gene diversity differ significantly between mitochondrial lineages, the Balkan group being more variable, but an increase in gene diversity towards the boundary between lineages was observed only within the Balkan lineage. The observed patterns are suggested to reflect the postglacial colonization and historical gene flow. They demonstrated that in silver fir as a wind-dispersed species, the colonization front is quite continuous, and the survival of migrant seeds in already established populations is low. The relative contribution of pollen-mediated gene flow to genetic exchange between divergent lineages associated with glacial refugia is much higher than in the case of seeds, but pollen dispersal distance is lower than suggested by earlier studies.