, Volume 116, Issue 8, pp 1063-1077
Date: 12 Mar 2008

Nuclear and cytoplasmic genetic diversity in weed beet and sugar beet accessions compared to wild relatives: new insights into the genetic relationships within the Beta vulgaris complex species

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Hybridization between cultivated species and their wild relatives is now widely considered to be common. In the Beta vulgaris complex, the sugar beet seed multiplication areas have been the scene of inadvertent pollination of sugar beet seed bearers by wild ruderal pollen donors, generating a weedy form of beet which infests sugar beet fields in European countries. Up to now, investigations of evolutionary dynamics of genetic diversity within the B. vulgaris complex were addressed using few genetical markers and few accessions. In this study, we tackled this issue using a panel of complementary markers: five nuclear microsatellite loci, four mitochondrial minisatellite loci and one chloroplastic PCR-RFLP marker. We sampled 1,640 individuals that illustrate the actual distribution of inland ruderal beets of South Western France, weed beets and wild sea beets of northern France as well as the diversity of 35 contemporary European diploid cultivars. Nuclear genetic diversity in weed beets appeared to be as high as those of ruderal beets and sea beets, whereas the narrowness of cultivar accessions was confirmed. This genetic bottleneck in cultivars is even more important in the cytoplasmic genome as only one haplotype was found among all sugar beet cultivars. The large majority of weed beet populations also presented this unique cytoplasmic haplotype, as expected owing to their maternal cultivated origin. Nonetheless, various cytoplasmic haplotypes were found within three populations of weed beets, implying wild-to-weed seed flows. Finally, our findings gave new insights into the genetical relationships between the components of the B. vulgaris complex: (1) we found a very strong genetic divergence between wild sea beet and other relatives, which was unexpected given the recent evolutionary history and the full cross-compatibility of all taxa and (2) we definitely confirmed that the classification into cultivated, wild, ruderal and weed forms according to their geographical location, phenotype or their domesticated status is clearly in accordance with genetic clustering despite the very recent domestication process of sugar beet.