Analysis of Genetic Diversity and Population Differentiation of Larix potaninii var. chinensis Using Microsatellite DNA
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- Yu, XM., Zhou, Q., Qian, ZQ. et al. Biochem Genet (2006) 44: 483. doi:10.1007/s10528-006-9049-7
Larix potaninii var. chinensis is endemic to China and is found only on several peaks of the Qinling Mountains in Shaanxi Province. In China, it is classified in the second class of national protected rare plants. To estimate genetic diversity and to analyze population genetic structure of L. potaninii var. chinensis, 120 individual samples from six natural populations were assessed using seven Larix SSR primer pairs. The results indicate that the level of genetic diversity of L. potaninii var. chinensis is very high, with a mean number of alleles per locus of 4.71. On the other hand, correspondingly low genetic differentiation was found between populations, with an FST value of 0.116, suggesting that more than four-fifths of the genetic variation resides within populations. Besides the influence of habitat heterogeneity and historical distribution, the high level of genetic diversity of L. potaninii var. chinensis is also attributed to its biological characteristics. The definite genetic differentiation among populations, however, is attributed to the effects of genetic drift and natural selection, which are most likely due to the spatial isolation and inclement climate of the species’ habitat. This study also revealed evidence that L. potaninii var. chinensis could be endangered, and some conservation strategies are suggested.