, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 405-419
Date: 14 Oct 2008

Spontaneous gene flow and population structure in wild and cultivated chicory, Cichorium intybus L.

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Abstract

Spontaneous gene flow between wild and cultivated chicory, Cichorium intybus L., may have implications for the genetic structure and evolution of populations and varieties. One aspect of this crop-wild gene flow is the dispersal of transgenes from genetically modified varieties, e.g. gene flow from GM chicory to natural chicory could have unwanted consequences. With the purpose to identify and quantify crop-wild gene flow in chicory, we analysed introgression in 19 wild chicory populations and 16 accessions of chicory varieties and landraces distributed across Northern, Central and Mediterranean Europe. The analysis used 281 AFLP markers and 75 SSAP markers giving a total of 356 polymorphic markers. Results from model based assignments with the program STRUCTURE indicated many incidents of recent gene flow. Gene flow was observed both between cultivars and wild populations, between landraces and wild populations, between different wild populations as well as between cultivars. Population structure visualized by distance-based clustering showed a North–South geographical structuring of the wild populations, and a general grouping of the cultivars corresponding to known origin. The results indicated, however, that the structuring between the two groups of wild and cultivated types was weak. As crop and wild recipients are genetically close and genes are transferred between the two types rather frequently, focus on mitigating crop-wild gene flow should be increased, before transgenic varieties are cultivated openly.