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Natural genetic differentiation and human-mediated gene flow: the spatiotemporal tendency observed in a long-lived Cinnamomum camphora (Lauraceae) tree

Abstract

The camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora) is an important natural resource in East Asia. From the early eighteenth to mid-twentieth century, C. camphora was widely cultivated to obtain camphor, a white crystalline substance used as a repellent, a component of medicine, and an ingredient in the production of smokeless gunpowder and celluloid. The vast utilization and cultivation of C. camphora have obscured its natural distribution, and the genetic structure of this species was likely affected by both natural factors and human activities in different areas and at different times. To estimate this process, we collected 817 samples from Japan, China, and Taiwan, including samples from trees estimated to be hundreds to thousands of years old. Population genetic analyses using 11 microsatellite markers detected the footprints of ancient genetic differentiation and recent human-mediated gene flow. The strong genetic differentiation between areas (Japan vs. China and Taiwan) and the decreased genetic diversity in Japan can be ascribed to the long-term geographical isolation during and after the glacial period. Within each area, the genetic composition of the cultivated or planted populations was often inconsistent with the surrounding natural and/or older specimens. This finding may be due to the regional transfer of plant materials with no regard to their genetic origin. We also detected rare but evident immigration from different areas; furthermore, these non-native genets seemed to locally hybridize with the native genets. We suggest that the intentional transfer and/or artificial hybridization between areas should be prohibited in order to preserve the genetic composition of C. camphora.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Kojiro Suzuki at the Tokyo University of Agriculture, Chao Chien-Ti at National Chung Hsing University, and Bangping Cai at the Siamen Botanical Garden for their substantial assistance with field sampling. This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number JP24710276.

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Correspondence to Yoshiaki Kameyama.

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All data are available at figshare: https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.4664002.v1.

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Kameyama, Y., Furumichi, J., Li, J. et al. Natural genetic differentiation and human-mediated gene flow: the spatiotemporal tendency observed in a long-lived Cinnamomum camphora (Lauraceae) tree. Tree Genetics & Genomes 13, 38 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11295-017-1119-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11295-017-1119-y

Keywords

  • Approximate Bayesian computation
  • Camphor laurel
  • Genetic structure
  • Glacial refugia
  • Human activity
  • Phylogeography