Spatial genetic structure in wild cherry (Prunus avium L.): I. variation among natural populations of different density
Conservation of forest genetic resources requires intensive knowledge of the spatial arrangement of genetic diversity. In this study, we used four natural Prunus avium stands in Germany with contrasting for densities to understand patterns of spatial genetic structure. To this end, we genotyped adults and saplings at eight microsatellite markers, 54 AFLP loci and at the gametophytic incompatibility locus. We estimated levels of clonal propagation, spatial genetic structure and gene dispersal. High mortality occurred among young clonal individuals, as depicted by the lower clonal diversity in saplings. Contrasting levels of spatial genetic structure were observed among markers, ontogenic stages and populations. AFLP were more efficient for detecting spatial autocorrelation but did not allow us to differentiate low and high density populations, while high density populations showed substantially stronger spatial genetic structure at microsatellite loci. Furthermore, kinship decreased with tree age only in low density stands. We discuss the present results in terms of population history, pollen and seed dispersal and population density. Although conspecific density seems to be an interesting indicator of genetic diversity for conservation programmes, we still need to disentangle the relative influence of clonal propagation and density on the strength of spatial genetic structure. Simulation studies are needed to further address this question.
KeywordsSpatial genetic structure Microsatellite AFLP Gametophytic incompatibility system Density Clonal propagation
The project was funded by the German Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV) by the grant 05/BE003/2 “Erfassung der genetischen Struktur der Vogelkirsche (Prunus avium) als Grundlage für ein genetisches Monitoring wichtiger Waldbaumarten in Deutschland.” We are thankful for the technical assistance of Alexandra Meier, Volker Schneck and Thomas Stauber; for the constructive comments on the manuscript of Olivier Hardy and two anonymous reviewers and for the language editing of Stephen Carvers.
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