Population Ecology

, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 573–586 | Cite as

Genetic diversity and structure of a Mediterranean endemic plant in Corsica (Mercurialis corsica, Euphorbiaceae)

  • Jérémy MiglioreEmail author
  • Alex Baumel
  • Marianick Juin
  • Katia Diadema
  • Laetitia Hugot
  • Régine Verlaque
  • Frédéric Médail
Original Article


The island of Corsica is a Mediterranean hotspot of plant biodiversity characterized by a high rate of plant endemism, but also by a lack of studies combining genetic diversity and conservation. In Corsica, the dioecious and Corso-Sardinian endemic Mercurialis corsica Cosson (Euphorbiaceae) occurs across a wide ecological gradient, but the number of populations have decreased considerably over the last century. The main aim of this study was to examine the patterns of genetic diversity occurring in the Corsican populations of M. corsica, depending on their location and demographic structure. The rDNA sequences did not show the existence of any polymorphism, whereas the cpDNA sequences revealed the divergence of the western Corsican populations. By contrast, when the AFLP markers were examined, although significant levels of differentiation were detected between populations, no distinct geographical patterns were observed except for the pronounced isolation of the Cap Corse genotypes. No significant correlations were found to exist between population size and the genetic diversity indexes used. The results of this study suggest that M. corsica has undergone a complex gene flow history involving past population admixtures, followed by fragmentation processes resulting in population differentiation but no geographical patterns of isolation. These results support the existence of three evolutive conservation units which have to be monitored in priority to determine whether the current pattern of demographic structure is still declining or has stabilized.


AFLP Chloroplast DNA Conservation genetics Dioecy Insularity Ribosomic DNA 



This research was supported by the Office de l’Environment de la Corse (OEC). We thank Guillaume Coste, Flavie Robert and Christine Scoffoni, who participated in the biological and ecological analyses. We are grateful to the botanists at the Conservatoire Botanique National de Corse (Alain Delage, Christophe Panaïotis, Paula Spinosi) and to several colleagues (André Manfredi from the Parc Naturel Régional de Corse, Daniel Jeanmonod and André Schlüssel from the Conservatoire et Jardin Botaniques de la Ville de Genève, Olivier Argagnon from the Conservatoire Botanique National Méditerranéen de Porquerolles, Jacques Gamisans and Guilhan Paradis) for their help during the sampling in Corsica, and to Gianluigi Bacchetta (University of Cagliari) for data on M. corsica in Sardinia. Many thanks also to Yohan Petit and Tiffen Dericbourg for their help in the realization of Fig. 1 and to Nathalie Duong (IMEP) for her advice on the molecular biology studies. We thank the curators of the herbaria in Aix (AIX), Aix-Marseille 1 (MRS), Genève (GE), Genova, Lyon (LY) and Paris (P), for kindly giving us permission to consult their collections. We also thank the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on our manuscript. The English text was corrected and improved by Jessica Blanc.


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Copyright information

© The Society of Population Ecology and Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jérémy Migliore
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alex Baumel
    • 1
  • Marianick Juin
    • 1
  • Katia Diadema
    • 2
  • Laetitia Hugot
    • 3
  • Régine Verlaque
    • 4
  • Frédéric Médail
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut Méditerranéen d’Ecologie et de Paléoécologie (UMR 6116 CNRS/IRD)Aix-Marseille Université (Université Paul Cézanne)Aix-en-Provence Cedex 04France
  2. 2.Conservatoire Botanique National Méditerranéen de PorquerollesAntibesFrance
  3. 3.Conservatoire Botanique National de CorseOffice de l’Environnement de la CorseCorteFrance
  4. 4.Institut Méditerranéen d’Ecologie et de Paléoécologie (UMR 6116 CNRS/IRD)Aix-Marseille Université (Université de Provence)Marseille Cedex 03France

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