Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 278, Issue 1–2, pp 33–41 | Cite as

Genetic structure of peripheral, island-like populations: a case study of Saponaria bellidifolia Sm. (Caryophyllaceae) from the Southeastern Carpathians

  • Anna-Mária CsergöEmail author
  • Peter Schönswetter
  • Gyöngyvér Mara
  • Tamás Deák
  • Nicolae Boşcaiu
  • Mária Höhn
Original Article


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.


Genetic diversity Naturally fragmented habitats Peripheral populations Apuseni Mountains Romania Saponaria bellidifolia RAPD AFLP 



We are grateful to the team of the Department of Genetics and Plant Breeding from Corvinus University of Budapest, especially Bacskainé Papp Anna, as well as to Lányi Szabolcs from Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania and Somogyi Gabriella from the Department of Botany, Corvinus University of Budapest for their help with laboratory works. We express our gratitude to the anonymous reviewers, whose comments have considerably improved the manuscript. Plant material was kindly provided by Gérard Largier, Jocelyne Cambecèdes and Delphine Fallour (France), Marija Edita-Šolić (Croatia), Fabio Conti (Italy) and Vladimir Vladimirov (Bulgaria). Research was part of Csergő Anna-Maria’s Ph.D. thesis and was partially supported by Domus Hungarica Scientiarum et Artium, Hungary.


  1. Antonovics J (1976) The nature of limits to natural selection. Ann Mo Bot Gard 63(2):224–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Booy G, Hendriks RJJ, Smulders MJM, Van Groenendael JM, Vosman B (2000) Genetic diversity and the survival of populations. Plant Biol 2:379–395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Boşcaiu N (1971) Flora şi vegetaţia Munţilor Ţarcu, Godeanu şi Cernei. Acad. R.S.R., BucureştiGoogle Scholar
  4. Boşcaiu N, Marossy A (1980–1981) Interferenţe fitogeografice din Munţii Apuseni. Nymphaea 8–9:395–400Google Scholar
  5. Brown JH (1984) On the relationship between abundance and distribution of species. Am Nat 124(2):255–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cain ML, Brook GM, Strand AE (2000) Long-distance seed dispersal in plant populations. Am J Bot 87(9):1217–1227PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cotrim HC, Chase MW, Pais MS (2003) Silene rothmaleri P. Silva (Caryophyllaceae), a rare, fragmented but genetically diverse species. Biodivers Conserv 12:1083–1098CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Eckert CG, Samis KE, Lougheed SC (2008) Genetic variation across species’ geographical ranges: the central-marginal hypothesis and beyond. Mol Ecol 17:1170–1188PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Eckstein RL, O’Neill RA, Danihelka J, Otte A, Köhler W (2006) Genetic structure among and within peripheral and central populations of three endangered floodplain violets. Mol Ecol 15:2367–2379PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ellstrand N, Elam DR (1993) Population genetic consequences of small population size: implications for plant conservation. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 24:217–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Excoffier L, Laval G, Schneider S (2005) Arlequin ver. 3.0: an integrated software package for population genetics data analysis. Evol Bioinform Online 1:47–50Google Scholar
  12. Gaudeul M, Taberlet P, Till-Bottraud I (2000) Genetic diversity in an endangered alpine plant, Eryngium alpinum L. (Apiaceae), inferred from amplified fragment length polymorphism markers. Mol Ecol 9:1625–1637PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hatcher PE, Wilkinson MJ, Albani MC, Hebbern CA (2004) Conserving marginal populations the food plant (Impatiens noli-tangere) of an endangered moth (Eustroma reticulatum) in a changing climate. Biol Conserv 116:305–317CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Herlihy CR, Eckert CG (2005) Evolution of self-fertilisation at geographical range margins? A comparison of demographic, floral and mating system variables in central vs. peripheral populations of Aquilegia canadensis (Ranunculaceae). Am J Bot 92(4):744–751CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hewitt GM (1999) Post-glacial re-colonization of European biota. Biol J Linn Soc Lond 68:87–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Holt RD (2003) On the evolutionary ecology of species’ ranges. Evol Ecol Res 5:159–178Google Scholar
  17. Jalas J, Suominen J (eds) (1986) Atlas Florae Europaeae. Distribution of vascular plants in Europe, vol 7. Caryophyllaceae (Silenoideae). The Committee for Mapping the Flora of Europe & Societas Biologica Fennica Vanamo, HelsinkiGoogle Scholar
  18. Jones B, Gliddon C, Good JEG (2001) The conservation of variation in geographically peripheral populations: Lloydia serotina (Liliaceae) in Britain. Biol Conserv 101:147–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kropf M, Kadereit JW, Comes HP (2002) Late Quaternary distributional stasis in the Submediterranean mountain plant Anthyllis montana L. (Fabaceae) inferred from ITS sequences and amplified fragment length polymorphism markers. Mol Ecol 11:447–463PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lakušić R (1970) Die Vegetation der Südöstlichen Dinariden. Vegetatio 21:321–373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lammi A, Siikamäki P, Mustajärvi K (1999) Genetic diversity, population size and fitness in central and peripheral populations of a rare plant Lychnis viscaria. Conserv Biol 13(5):1069–1078CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Leimu R, Mutikainen P (2004) Population history, mating system, and fitness variation in a perennial herb with a fragmented distribution. Conserv Biol 19(2):349–356CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lesica P, Allendorf FW (1995) When are peripheral populations valuable for conservation? Conserv Biol 9(4):753–760CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lönn M, Prentice HC (2002) Gene diversity and demographic turnover in central and peripheral populations of the perennial herb Gypsophila fastigiata. Oikos 99:489–498CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Loveless MD, Hamrick JL (1984) Ecological determinants of genetic structure in plant populations. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 15:65–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Miller MP (1997) Tools for population genetic analyses (TFPGA) 1.3: a Windows program for the analysis of allozyme and molecular population genetic data. Computer software distributed by the authorGoogle Scholar
  27. Nei M (1978) Estimation of average heterozygosity and genetic distance from a small number of individuals. Genetics 89:583–590PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Nei M, Li WH (1979) Mathematical model for studying genetic variation in terms of restriction endonucleases. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 76:5269–5273PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Nybom H, Bartish IV (2000) Effects of life history traits and sampling strategies on genetic diversity estimates obtained with RAPD markers in plants. Perspect Plant Ecol Evol Syst 3(2):93–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. R Development Core Team (2007) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, ViennaGoogle Scholar
  31. Sagarin RD, Gaines SD, Gaylord B (2006) Moving beyond assumptions to understand abundance distributions across the ranges of species. Trends Ecol Evol 21(9):524–530PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Schönswetter P, Tribsch A, Barfuss M, Niklfeld H (2002) Several Pleistocene refugia detected in the high alpine plant Phyteuma globulariifolium Sternb. & Hoppe (Campanulaceae) in the European Alps. Mol Ecol 11:2637–2647PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sokal R, Rohlf FJ (1995) Biometry. W.H. Freeman and Co., New YorkGoogle Scholar
  34. Taberlet P, Fumagalli L, Wust-Saucy AG, Cosson J-F (1998) Comparative phylogeography and postglacial colonization routes in Europe. Mol Ecol 7:453–464PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Tero N, Aspi J, Siikamäki P, Jäkäläniemi A (2005) Local genetic population structure in an endangered plant species, Silene tatarica (Caryophyllaceae). Heredity 1–10Google Scholar
  36. Torres E, Iriondo JM, Escudero A, Perez C (2003) Analysis of within-population spatial genetic structure in Antirrhinum microphyllum (Scrophulariaceae). Am J Bot 90(12):1688–1695CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Travis JMJ, Ezard THG (2006) Habitat geometry, population viscosity and the rate of genetic drift. Ecol Inform 1:153–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Trewick SA, Morgan-Richards M, Russel SJ, Henderson S, Rumsey FJ, Pintér I, Barrett JA, Gibby M, Vogel JC (2002) Polyploidy, phylogeography, and Pleistocene refugia of the rockfern Asplenium ceterach: evidence from chloroplast DNA. Mol Ecol 11:2003–2012PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Van de Peer Y, De Wachter R (1997) Construction of evolutionary distance trees with TREECON for Windows: accounting for variation in nucleotide substitution rate among sites. Comput Appl Biosci 13:227–230PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Van Rossum F, Vekemans X, Gratia E, Meerts P (2003) A comparative study of allozyme variation of peripheral and central populations of Silene nutans L. (Caryophyllaceae) from Western Europe: implications for conservation. Plant Syst Evol 242:49–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wolf AT, Harrison SP (2001) Effects of habitat size and patch isolation on reproductive success of the serpentine morning glory. Conserv Biol 15(1):111–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wróblewska A, Brzosko E (2006) The genetic structure of the steppe plant Iris aphylla L. at the northern limit of its geographical range. Bot J Linn Soc 152:245–255Google Scholar
  43. Yakimowski SB, Eckert CG (2007) Threatened peripheral populations in context: geographical variation in population frequency and size and sexual reproduction in a clonal woody shrub. Conserv Biol 21(3):811–822PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Young A, Boyle T, Brown T (1996) The population genetic consequences of habitat fragmentation for plants. Trends Ecol Evol 11(10):413–418CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna-Mária Csergö
    • 1
    Email author
  • Peter Schönswetter
    • 2
  • Gyöngyvér Mara
    • 3
  • Tamás Deák
    • 4
  • Nicolae Boşcaiu
    • 5
  • Mária Höhn
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Horticulture, Faculty of Technical and Human SciencesSapientia Hungarian University of TransylvaniaTârgu-MureşRomania
  2. 2.Department of Biogeography and Botanical Garden, Faculty Centre BotanyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  3. 3.Faculty of Technical and Social SciencesSapientia Hungarian University of TransylvaniaMiercurea-CiucRomania
  4. 4.Department of Plant Genetics, Faculty of HorticultureCorvinus UniversityBudapestHungary
  5. 5.Department of Cluj-NapocaInstitute of Biology of the Romanian Academy of ScienceCluj-NapocaRomania
  6. 6.Department of Plant Sciences, Faculty of HorticultureCorvinus UniversityBudapestHungary

Personalised recommendations