Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 278, Issue 3–4, pp 203–209 | Cite as

Lack of allozyme diversity in populations of the rare, endangered terrestrial orchids Tipularia japonica and Epipactis papillosa in Korea

Original Article


Since high levels of genetic diversity may ensure long-term survival of a plant species, it is essential to preserve the genetic diversity of the species. Tipularia japonica and Epipactis papillosa are rare terrestrial orchids in southern Korea with fewer than 50 mature individuals in a population and southern Japan and considered to be threatened (endangered or vulunerable). To obtain knowledge of how the genetic variation of these species is partitioned within and among populations in Korea, I used enzyme electrophoresis to examine the genetic diversity of each eight known populations of the two species from South Korea. Twenty-three (E. papillosa) and 24 putative loci (T. japonica) resolved from 15 enzyme systems revealed no variation either within or among populations of each species (0.0% of the percentage of polymorphic loci, %P). Previous studies, in contrast, showed that their more widely distributed disjunct congeners T. discolor and E. helleborine harbored high allozyme-based genetic diversity within populations in eastern United States (%P = 75%) and in Denmark (%P = 73.6%), respectively. In theory, small population size leads to allelic fixation at many loci over generations within a population, resulting in population genetic divergence or differentiation. In this regard, the complete lack of genetic differences between conspecific populations of T. japonica and E. papillosa cannot be explained by genetic drift. Instead, the present allozyme data suggest that recent origin from the same genetically depauperate ancestral or source population could result in this observation. The current status of T. japonica and E. papillosa (rarity and lack of genetic variation) significantly threatens the long-term survival of the species in Korea.


Allozymes Conservation Epipactis papillosa Genetic variation Orchidaceae Rarity South Korea Tipularia japonica 



The author thanks Jung Pyo Cheon, Jin Seok Kim, and Jae Min Chung for helping me locating natural habitats of Tipularia japonica and Epipactis papillosa in South Korea; Beom Jin Shim and Myeong Soon Park for laboratory assistances; and M. G. Chung for fruitful discussions and many helpful comments on the earlier and final versions of the manuscript. This research was supported by a Korea Research Foundation grant (KRF-2007-532-C00022).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyGyeongsang National UniversityJinjuRepublic of Korea

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