Population Ecology

, 52:223 | Cite as

Genetic diversity of the endangered Chinese endemic herb Saruma henryi Oliv. (Aristolochiaceae) and its implications for conservation

  • Tian-Hua Zhou
  • Zeng-Qiang Qian
  • Shan Li
  • Zhi-Gang Guo
  • Zhao-Hui Huang
  • Zhan-Lin Liu
  • Gui-Fang ZhaoEmail author
Original Article


Saruma henryi Oliv., the only representative of the monotypic genus Saruma Oliv. (Aristolochiaceae), is an endangered perennial herb endemic to China. It is a phylogenetically, ecologically, and medicinally important species. In the present study, inter-simple sequence repeat (ISSR) markers were employed to investigate the genetic diversity and differentiation of 14 populations. A total of 16 selected primers yielded 175 bright and discernible bands, with an average of 10.94 per primer. POPGENE analysis showed that the genetic diversity was quite low at the population level (h = 0.0447–0.1243; I = 0.0642–0.1853; PPB = 10.29–36.57%), but pretty high at the species level (h = 0.2603; I = 0.3857; PPB = 73.71%). The hierarchical analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) revealed a high level of genetic differentiation among populations (67.18% of total variance components, P < 0.001), in line with the gene differentiation coefficient (G ST = 0.6903) and the limited among-population gene flow (N m = 0.2243). Both Principal Coordinates Analysis (PCoA) and UPGMA cluster analysis supported the grouping of all 14 populations into three geographic groups, among which there occurred a moderate level of genetic differentiation (33.18% of total variance components, P < 0.001) as shown by AMOVA analysis. In addition, Mantel test revealed a significant correlation between genetic and geographic distances among populations (r = 0.7792, P = 0.001), indicating the role of geographic isolation in shaping its present population genetic structure. The present levels and patterns of genetic diversity of S. henryi were assumed to result largely from its breeding system, geographic isolation, clonal growth, its unique biological traits and evolutionary history. The high genetic differentiation among populations implies that the conservation efforts should aim to preserve all the extant populations of this endangered herb.


Conservation genetics Endemic species Genetic differentiation Inter-simple sequence repeats (ISSRs) 



The authors would like to thank three anonymous reviewers for their critical comments on the manuscript. This study was financially co-supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No: 30800087), the Program for Changjiang Scholars and Innovative Research Team in University (PCSIRT) and the Postgraduate Innovation & Education Program of Northwest University (NWU) (Grant No: 08YZZ37).


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Copyright information

© The Society of Population Ecology and Springer 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tian-Hua Zhou
    • 1
  • Zeng-Qiang Qian
    • 2
  • Shan Li
    • 3
  • Zhi-Gang Guo
    • 1
  • Zhao-Hui Huang
    • 1
  • Zhan-Lin Liu
    • 1
  • Gui-Fang Zhao
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Resource Biology and Biotechnology in Western China (Ministry of Education), College of Life SciencesNorthwest UniversityXi’anPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.School of Marine and Tropical BiologyJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  3. 3.College of Life Sciences and TechnologyTongji UniversityShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China

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