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Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 300, Issue 5, pp 1199–1208 | Cite as

Low genetic diversity and high levels of inbreeding in the Sinai primrose (Primula boveana), a species on the brink of extinction

  • Ares JiménezEmail author
  • Hassan Mansour
  • Barbara Keller
  • Elena Conti
Original Article

Abstract

The Sinai primrose (Primula boveana) is one of the most endangered plant species worldwide, with less than 200 wild individuals surviving in the Sinai mountains of Egypt. There has been a decline in both the number and size of its populations in recent times, possibly caused by threats that include habitat aridification and the impact of human activities. Studying the standing genetic variation and extent of inbreeding of P. boveana is necessary for the design of appropriate conservation strategies for this species. In the present work, we used a set of seven, recently developed, polymorphic microsatellite markers to characterize the genetic variation and levels of inbreeding of the extant populations of P. boveana. We found low levels of genetic variation (H T = 0.470), high differentiation between populations (F ST = 0.737, R ST = 0.935), and very elevated levels of inbreeding (F = 0.862) due to recurrent selfing. These results may be the reflection of low levels of genetic variation and high levels of inbreeding over a long evolutionary period, suggesting that the current genetic pool of the species may enable P. boveana to persist in a habitat where water availability and pollinator services are restricted. Nevertheless, in sight of its rapidly dwindling abundance, it seems prudent to adopt swift measures, including habitat restoration and ex-situ conservation, to prevent the impending extinction of this emblematic species.

Keywords

Aridification Genetic variation Inbreeding Mount St. Catherine Sinai primrose Human-driven environmental change 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank S. Hussein for his help during field work and M. D. Nowak for his valuable comments in early drafts of this manuscript. We also thank G. Oostermeijer for the constructive comments and suggestions provided during the revision process. This work was supported by a Swiss National Science Foundation grant to HM (IZK0Z3_139418) for a short research stay in Zurich and by the Institute of Systematic Botany of the University of Zurich.

Supplementary material

606_2013_955_MOESM1_ESM.doc (52 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 51 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ares Jiménez
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hassan Mansour
    • 2
  • Barbara Keller
    • 1
  • Elena Conti
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Systematic BotanyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Botany Department, Faculty of ScienceSuez Canal UniversityIsmailiaEgypt

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