Genetic structure of peripheral, island-like populations: a case study of Saponaria bellidifolia Sm. (Caryophyllaceae) from the Southeastern Carpathians
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- Csergö, AM., Schönswetter, P., Mara, G. et al. Plant Syst Evol (2009) 278: 33. doi:10.1007/s00606-008-0129-5
Geographically peripheral populations often experience a reduction of genetic diversity and divergence from the core populations. Habitat geometry and quality can induce a local genetic diversity pattern, which overlies the regional variability issued from the range-wide phylogeography. We evaluated the genetic variation and genetic divergence of Saponaria bellidifolia Sm. on limestone outcrops within peripheral island-like populations from the Southeastern Carpathians, using RAPD markers. We also determined the degree of isolation related to other European populations, using AFLP. The Romanian populations had a decreased overall genetic diversity shared among populations, with lower level in small populations. Potential habitat size had a positive effect on genetic diversity estimates. Fisher’s exact tests of genetic differentiation revealed significant divergences only between the geographically most distant populations. Romanian populations were genetically pauperised as compared to Bulgarian and Italian populations and our results suggest that they might have originated from a recent range expansion from southern glacial refugia.