Population Ecology

, Volume 51, Issue 2, pp 307–315 | Cite as

Spatial genetic structure and restricted gene flow in a functionally dioecious fig, Ficus pumila L. var. pumila (Moraceae)

  • Rong Wang
  • Bin Ai
  • Bang-Quan Gao
  • Shuo Yu
  • Yuan-Yuan Li
  • Xiao-Yong Chen
Original Article


The mutualism between fig plants and fig wasps has been recognized as one of the most specialized systems of symbiosis. Figs are pollinated by their highly specific pollinating fig wasps, and the pollinating fig wasps are raised within the syconia of figs. Recent studies indicated a difference between monoecious and dioecious figs in the dispersal range of pollinating wasps, which has potential consequences for gene flow. In this study, we detected the gene-flow pattern of the dioecious climbing fig, Ficus pumila L. var. pumila, at both local and regional scales. At the local scale, spatial autocorrelation analysis indicated strong genetic structure at short distances, a pattern of limited gene flow. This result was also supported by a high inbreeding coefficient (FIS = 0.287) and significant substructuring (FST = 0.060; P < 0.001). Further analysis indicated that the effective gene dispersal range was 1,211 m, and the relative contribution of seed dispersal was smaller than that of pollen dispersal. The inferred effective range of pollen dispersal ranged from 989 to 1,712 m, while the effective seed dispersal range was less than 989 m. Lack of long-distance dispersal agents may explain the limited seed dispersal. The high density of receptive fig trees was the most likely explanation for limited pollen dispersal, and the position of syconia and relatively low wind speed beneath the canopy may contribute to this phenomenon. At the regional scale, significant negative correlations (kinship coefficient Fij ranging from −0.038 to −0.071) existed in all comparisons between the studied population and other populations, and the assignment test grouped almost all individuals of the studied population into a distinct cluster. Asynchronous flowering on the regional scale, which provides a barrier for the pollinating wasps to fly from the studied population to the other populations, is probably responsible for the limited gene flow on the regional scale.


Assignment test Ficus pumila L. var. pumila Microsatellites Pollen and seed dispersal Spatial genetic structure 


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Copyright information

© The Society of Population Ecology and Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rong Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bin Ai
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bang-Quan Gao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shuo Yu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yuan-Yuan Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xiao-Yong Chen
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Sciences, Shanghai Key Laboratory for Ecological Processes and RestorationEast China Normal UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Tiantong National Observation Station for Forest EcosystemsShanghaiChina

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