Differential levels of genetic diversity and divergence among populations of an ancient Australian rainforest conifer, Araucaria cunninghamii
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Historical fragmentation and subsequent isolation has affected the levels of genetic diversity in many lineages of ancient plant taxa. This study investigated the effects of historical processes on Araucaria cunninghamii (Hoop Pine), Araucariaceae, using both RAPD and ISSR markers. While most populations maintain moderate levels of diversity, there is some evidence for reduced genetic variation. Most sampled populations are significantly differentiated from each other, thereby emphasizing the high degree of population structuring in A. cunninghamii. Increased divergence among the northern Queensland populations relative to southern Queensland populations suggests historical pressures have impacted differently on extant population distribution. More research is specifically required into the biology and population demographics of Australian Araucariaceae.
KeywordsAraucaria cunninghamii Hoop Pine Araucariaceae RAPDs ISSRs Conifers Southern Hemisphere Population genetics
We are extremely grateful for the assistance provided by the Environmental Protection Agency of Queensland, especially Bunya Mountains National Park staff, during M. Pye’s stay for sample collections. Michelle Waycott provided valuable assistance for the optimisation of the RAPD procedure and the formation of ISSR protocols. We thank Adella Edwards for the preparation of the figure of sampled Hoop Pine localities. We also thank Dr. Garth Nikles for insightful discussions regarding the history of Hoop Pine plantations in Australia. This research was supported by funds from the Australian Postgraduate Award, Rainforest CRC, Cairns and the School of Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Cairns. This forms part of a larger project examining the response of Australian Araucaria spp. to historical climate change.
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