Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 132, Issue 6, pp 741–758 | Cite as

Population genetic structure and demography of Magnolia kobus: variety borealis is not supported genetically

  • Ichiro Tamaki
  • Naomichi Kawashima
  • Suzuki Setsuko
  • Jung-Hyun Lee
  • Akemi Itaya
  • Kyohei Yukitoshi
  • Nobuhiro TomaruEmail author
Regular Paper


Species delimitations by morphological and by genetic markers are not always congruent. Magnolia kobus consists of two morphologically different varieties, kobus and borealis. The latter variety is characterized by larger leaves than the former. For the conservation of M. kobus genetic resources in natural forests, the relationships between morphological and genetic variation should be clarified. We investigated variations in nuclear microsatellites, chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) sequences and leaf morphological traits in 23 populations of M. kobus over the range of species. Two genetically divergent lineages, northern and southern were detected and their geographical boundary was estimated to be at 39°N. The northern lineage consisted of two genetic clusters and a single cpDNA haplotype, while the southern one had multiple genetic clusters and cpDNA haplotypes. The northern lineage showed significantly lower genetic diversity than the southern. Approximate Bayesian computation indicated that the northern and southern lineages had experienced, respectively, population expansion and long-term stable population size. The divergence time between the two lineages was estimated to be 565,000 years ago and no signature of migration between the two lineages after divergence was detected. Ecological niche modeling showed that the potential distribution area in northern Japan at the last glacial maximum was very small. It is thus considered that the two lineages have experienced different population histories over several glacial-inter-glacial cycles. Individuals of populations in the central to northern part of Honshu on the Sea of Japan side and in Hokkaido had large leaf width and area. These leaf characteristics corresponded with those of variety borealis. However, the delimitation of the northern and southern lineages detected by genetic markers (39°N) was not congruent with that detected by leaf morphologies (36°N). It is therefore suggested that variety borealis is not supported genetically and the northern and southern lineages should be considered separately when identifying conservation units based not on morphology but on genetic markers.


Approximate Bayesian computation Chloroplast DNA sequences Conservation Ecological niche modeling Leaf morphology Microsatellites 



We thank Yoichi Watanabe of Chiba University for his help in genetic data analyses, and the members of the Laboratory of Forest Ecology and Physiology of Nagoya University, and Kazunori Takahashi of Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, for their assistance in sampling material. We also thank anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on the previous manuscript.


This research was founded by a Grant for research on Development of Evaluation Methods of Genetic Diversity in Broad-leaved Trees (2010–2012) from the Forestry Agency, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Japan.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

10265_2019_1134_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (788 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 787 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Botanical Society of Japan and Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Gifu Academy of Forest Science and CultureMinoJapan
  2. 2.Graduate School of Bioagricultural SciencesNagoya UniversityNagoyaJapan
  3. 3.Department of Forest Molecular Genetics and BiotechnologyForestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Forest Research and Management OrganizationTsukubaJapan
  4. 4.Department of Biology EducationChonnam National UniversityGwangjuRepublic of Korea
  5. 5.Graduate School of BioresourcesMie UniversityTsuJapan
  6. 6.Mie Prefecture Forestry Research InstituteTsuJapan

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