Crop-weed interactions in the Beta vulgaris complex at a local scale: allelic diversity and gene flow within sugar beet fields
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Crop-wild hybrids and weed beets are the main source of agronomic concern for sugar beet production all over Europe. In order to understand the dynamics of crop-wild interactions and the evolution of weediness in Beta vulgaris, we investigated genetic features of bolting individuals occurring at a local scale, i.e. within two sugar beet fields of the French northern area of sugar beet production. By analysing ploidy level, mitochondrial DNA and microsatellite polymorphism, the genetic diversity and the genetic relationships among three different classes of individuals (variety, in-row and out-row weed-beets) from a given field were examined. Such genetic analyses provide a unique opportunity to obtain evidence for the weeds origin and the evolutionary hypotheses previously stated. All the individuals shared in common the Svulg mitochondrial haplotype, and thus a common maternal origin. Conversely, the large genetic diversity at microsatellite loci highlighted the large diversity of the pollinator plants (cultivated and wild plants) during the-seed production process, as well as during the further evolution of weed beets in the sugar production area.
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