Spatio-temporal genetic variation in populations of wild emmer wheat, Triticum turgidum ssp. dicoccoides, as revealed by AFLP analysis
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- Ozbek, O., Millet, E., Anikster, Y. et al. Theor Appl Genet (2007) 115: 19. doi:10.1007/s00122-007-0536-y
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Genetic structure of natural populations of wild crop relatives has been the subject of many studies. Yet, most of them focused on the assessment of spatial genetic diversity, while information on long-term variation, affected by yearly changes, has been considered only in few cases. The present study aimed therefore, to estimate the spatio-temporal genetic variation in populations of wild emmer wheat, the progenitor of domesticated wheat, and to assess the contribution of spatial versus temporal factors to the maintenance of genetic variation in a population. Single spikes were collected in the years 1988 and 2002 from plants that grew in the same sampling points, from six different habitats in the Ammiad conservation site, Eastern Galilee, Israel. Seeds were planted in a nursery and DNA was extracted from each plant and analyzed by the AFLP method. Fourteen primer combinations yielded 1,545 bands of which 50.0 and 48.8% were polymorphic in the years 1988 and 2002, respectively. Genetic diversity was much larger within populations than between populations and the temporal genetic diversity was considerably smaller than the spatial one. Nevertheless, population genetic structure may vary to some degree in different years, mainly due to fluctuations in population size because of yearly rainfall variations. This may lead to predominance of different genotypes in different years. Clustering the plants by their genetic distances grouped them according to their habitats, indicating the existence of genotype-environment affinities. The significance of the results in relation to factors affecting the maintenance of polymorphism in natural populations is discussed.