RAPD variation within and among natural populations of outcrossing willow-leaved foxglove (Digitalis obscura L.)
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Random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) markers were used to assess levels and patterns of genetic diversity in Digitalis obscura L. (Scrophulariaceae), an outcrossing cardenolide-producing medicinal plant species. A total of 50 plants from six natural populations on the Iberian Peninsula were analysed by six arbitrarily chosen decamer primers resulting in 96 highly reproducible RAPD bands. To avoid bias in parameter estimation, analyses of population genetic structure were restricted to bands (35 of 96) whose observed frequencies were less than 1–3/n in each population. The analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) with distances among individuals corrected for the dominant nature of RAPDs (genotypic analysis) showed that most of the variation (84.8%) occurred among individuals within populations, which is expected for an outcrossing organism. Of the remaining variance, 9.7% was attributed to differences between regions, and 5.5% for differences among populations within regions. Estimates of the Wright, Weir and Cockerham and Lynch and Milligan FST from null-allele frequencies corroborated AMOVA partitioning and provided significant evidence for population differentiation in D. obscura. A non-parametric test for the homogeneity of molecular variance (HOMOVA) also showed significant differences in the amount of genetic variability present in the six populations. UPGMA cluster analyses, based on Apostol genetic distance, revealed grouping of some geographically proximate populations. Nevertheless, a Mantel test did not give a significant correlation between geographic and genetic distances. This is the first report of the partitioning of genetic variability within and between populations of D. obscura and provides important baseline data for optimising sampling strategies and for conserving the genetic resources of this medicinal species.
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