The Botanical Review

, Volume 84, Issue 1, pp 1–25 | Cite as

Patterns of Genetic Diversity in Rare and Common Orchids Focusing on the Korean Peninsula: Implications for Conservation

  • Mi Yoon Chung
  • Jordi López-Pujol
  • Sungwon Son
  • Gang Uk Suh
  • Tomohisa Yukawa
  • Myong Gi ChungEmail author


To provide basic information for orchid conservation, we surveyed the plant allozyme literature to summarize genetic diversity and structure data for (i) rare orchids native to the Korean Peninsula, and (ii) their congeners irrespective of being common and rare or Korean or not. A total of 68 taxa (32 taxa in Korea and 37 outside Korea; Goodyera repens being included in both datasets) were considered in this study. Overall, rare Korean orchid species had significantly lower levels of genetic diversity than their common congeners and common orchids in general at both population and species levels. However, mean values of G ST (or F ST) for rare and common orchids (Korean or not) did not differ significantly from each other. We found patterns of both low and high genetic diversity in rare Korean orchids. Many rare orchids harbored a complete lack of allozyme variation or extremely low within-population variation, perhaps due to rarity associated with random genetic drift and/or, for the case of warm-temperate orchids, to founder effects during post-glacial re-colonization. In contrast, high levels of genetic variation were found for a few orchids that have become recently rare (due to over-collection during the past several decades), probably because there have not been sufficient generations for the initial diversity to be substantially eroded. In addition, several orchids occurring in the main mountain system of the Korean Peninsula (the Baekdudaegan), that served as a glacial refugium, maintained moderate to high levels of within-population genetic diversity. Based on our genetic data, conservation priority should be given to rare orchid species. Particularly, urgent measures should be implemented on Jeju Island, a popular vacation spot, because it also a hotspot for threatened orchids with low levels of genetic diversity.


Allozymes Conservation Genetic Diversity Korean Peninsula Orchidaceae 



The authors thank all undergraduate and graduate students who were associated with the M. G. Chung’s laboratory since 1991. The two graduate students Hoa Thi Quynh Le and Son Hai Vu have helped to search for references in Table 1. Special thank goes to James Hamrick, John Nason, Rodney Peakall, Bryan Epperson, Mei Sun, James Ackerman, Raymond Tremblay, Dennis Whigham, Dorset Trapnell, Ken Cameron, Hans Jacquemyn, Chris Wilcock, and Mary Ruth Neiland, for their discussion on orchid conservation and pollination biology; Jae Min Chung, Jin Seok Kim, Jin O Hyun, Byung-Yun Sun, Chan-Soo Kim, Hyoung-Tak Im, Masayuki Maki, Naoto Sugiura, Tadashi Yamashiro, Takayuki Kawahara, Kenji Suetsugu, Kaoru Tsuji, Huai Zhen Tian, Chengxin Fu, Yi-Bo Luo, and Yung-I Lee for their help in locating wild orchids in Korea, Japan, China, and Taiwan or discussion on their breeding systems. This research was supported by Korea Research Foundation grants; KRF-2013R1A1A2063524 to M.Y. C. and NRF-2011-0017236, NRF-2013R1A1A3010892, and NRF-2017R1A2B4012215 to M. G. C. and was carried out as part of “Infrastructure for Conservation and Restoration of Rare and Endemic Plants in Korea National Arboretum” that supported to M. G. C. in 2015 to 2017.

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mi Yoon Chung
    • 1
  • Jordi López-Pujol
    • 2
  • Sungwon Son
    • 3
  • Gang Uk Suh
    • 3
  • Tomohisa Yukawa
    • 4
  • Myong Gi Chung
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Life Science and the Research Institute of Natural ScienceGyeongsang National UniversityJinjuRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.BioC-GReBBotanic Institute of Barcelona (IBB-CSIC-ICUB)BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Plant Conservation DivisionKorea National ArboretumPocheonRepublic of Korea
  4. 4.Tsukuba Botanical GardenNational Museum of Nature and ScienceTsukubaJapan

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