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Heredity (Edinb). 2005 Dec;95(6):466-75.

Distinguishing adaptive from nonadaptive genetic differentiation: comparison of Q(ST) and F(ST) at two spatial scales.

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  • 1Life Science Department, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, POB 653, Beer Sheva 84105, Israel.


Genetic differentiation in 20 hierarchically sampled populations of wild barley was analyzed with quantitative traits, allozymes and Random Amplified Polymorphic DNAs (RAPDs), and compared for three marker types at two hierarchical levels. Regional subdivision for both molecular markers was much lower than for quantitative traits. For both allozymes and RAPDs, most loci exhibited minor or no regional differentiation, and the relatively high overall estimates of the latter were due to several loci with exceptionally high regional differentiation. The allozyme- and RAPD-specific patterns of differentiation were concordant in general with one another, but not with quantitative trait differentiation. Divergent selection on quantitative traits inferred from very high regional Q(ST) was in full agreement with our previous results obtained from a test of local adaptation and multilevel selection analysis. In contrast, most variation in allozyme and RAPD variation was neutral, although several allozyme loci and RAPD markers were exceptional in their levels of regional differentiation. However, it is not possible to answer the question whether these exceptional loci are directly involved in the response to selection pressure or merely linked to the selected loci. The fact that Q(ST) and F(ST) did not differ at the population scale, that is, within regions, but differed at the regional scale, for which local adaptation has been previously shown, implies that comparison of the level of subdivision in quantitative traits, as compared with molecular markers, is indicative of adaptive population differentiation only when sampling is carried out at the appropriate scale.

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