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Am J Bot. 2010 Jan;97(1):101-10. doi: 10.3732/ajb.0800220. Epub 2009 Dec 10.

Multiple spatial scale patterns of genetic diversity in riparian populations of Ainsliaea faurieana (Asteraceae) on Yakushima Island, Japan.

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  • 1Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University, Yoshida Nihonmatsu-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan.


Habitat and geographical features of river systems strongly influence gene flow and spatial genetic patterning in riparian plant populations. We investigated the patterns of genetic diversity within and among populations of Ainsliaea faurieana relative to different spatial conditions (along a river, among rivers, and among regions on an island), based on nuclear and chloroplast microsatellite DNA variations. Within an individual river system, we found higher haplotype diversities in downstream populations, and in a Bayesian analysis of recent migration, we detected unidirectional gene movements from upstream to downstream, indicating water-mediated dispersal along the river. Mantel tests detected no isolation-by-distance in genetic variation, suggesting the maintenance of a metapopulation with wide-range seed dispersal by water. Moreover, the observed high level of genetic differentiation, especially in the cpDNA (F(ST) = 0.539), indicated a metapopulation structure with frequent extinction and colonization. On a larger scale, we found high population differentiation and clear genetic structuring among regions, suggesting that gene flow was restricted by geographical features (mountains separating river systems) for relatively long periods. Our findings of genetic structures based on different spatial conditions elucidated patterns and ranges of historical and contemporary gene movement in a plant species that is persistent in extremely disturbed riparian environments.

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