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Heredity (Edinb). 2004 Oct;93(4):322-9.

Recombination and clonal propagation in different populations of the lichen Lobaria pulmonaria.

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  • 1WSL Swiss Federal Research Institute, Z├╝rcherstrasse 111, CH-8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland. jcwalser@uchicago.edu


Propagation, dispersal, and establishment are fundamental population processes, and are critical stages in the life cycle of an organism. In symbiotic organisms such as lichens, consisting of a fungus and a population of photobionts, reproduction is a complex process. Although many lichens are able to reproduce both sexually and asexually, the extent of vegetative propagation within local populations is unknown. We used six polymorphic microsatellite loci to investigate whether recombination is common in natural populations, and to assess if and how clonal reproduction influences the spatial genetic structure within populations of the epiphytic lichen species Lobaria pulmonaria. High genetic diversity within all 12 investigated populations and evidence of recombination, from various tests, indicated that L. pulmonaria is a predominantly outcrossing species. Nevertheless, clonality occurred in all populations, but the presence of recurring multilocus genotypes influenced the spatial genetic structure only within low-density populations. This could be interpreted as indicative of genetic bottlenecks owing to increased habitat loss and disturbance. Consequently, for a predominantly outcrossing lichen species, exogenous factors might be substantially altering population processes and hence genetic structure.

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