Chloroplast DNA markers reveal a geographical divide across Argentinean southern beech Nothofagus nervosa (Phil.) Dim. et Mil. distribution area
Nothofagus nervosa is one of the most important species of the temperate forests of southern South America. On the eastern slope of the Andes Mountains (Argentina) it has a very small and narrow natural distribution area which follows the valleys of the numerous west-east lake basins. Re-colonisation after the last glaciation is assumed to have originated from refugia located in the western pacific coast or even in free interglacial patches of the Andes Mountains. Sixteen pairs of primers were used to amplify 16 non-coding regions of chloroplast DNA in 11 populations from over the entire distribution area in Argentina. After restriction analysis two polymorphic fragments were found which defined two haplotypes and allowed a differentiation among populations. A clear geographic divide occurs separating populations distributed south and north of a west-east mountain chain. This suggests that after the last glaciation the species spread out from at least two different refugia. Hypotheses about the possible location of these refugia are discussed.
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