Theoretical and Applied Genetics

, Volume 116, Issue 8, pp 1063–1077 | Cite as

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

  • Stéphane Fénart
  • Jean-François Arnaud
  • Isabelle De Cauwer
  • Joël Cuguen
Original Paper


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.


Sugar Beet Cytoplasmic Male Sterility Allelic Richness Wild Beet Sugar Beet Cultivar 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank M. Richard-Molard, from the ‘Institut Technique de la Betterave industrielle’ (ITB), for providing us the 35 sugar beet cultivars included in this study. We are also very grateful to Marion Ballenghien and Adeline Courseaux for their technical assistance in molecular analysis. We are very grateful to Alan Schulman and two anonymous referees for providing helpful comments and suggestions on previous versions of the manuscript. This work was funded by the “Contrat de Plan État/Région Nord-Pas-de-Calais”. Stéphane Fénart was supported by an INRA/Région Nord-Pas-de-Calais PhD fellowship and Isabelle De Cauwer is supported by a CNRS/Région Nord-Pas-de-Calais PhD fellowship.

Supplementary material

122_2008_735_MOESM1_ESM.rtf (1.2 mb)
Electronic supplementary material S1 Pairwise estimates of genetic differentiation (F ST) among populations (above diagonal) and their associate significance (below diagonal). *P < 0.05; **P < 0.01; ***P < 0.001; NS, not significant after Bonferroni correction. (RTF 1251 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stéphane Fénart
    • 1
  • Jean-François Arnaud
    • 1
  • Isabelle De Cauwer
    • 1
  • Joël Cuguen
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Génétique et Évolution des Populations Végétales, UMR CNRS 8016Université des Sciences et Technologies de Lille, Lille 1Villeneuve d’Ascq CedexFrance

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