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Am J Bot. 2000 Mar;87(3):431-9.

Genetic diversity and gene flow in the morphologically variable, rare endemics Begonia dregei and Begonia homonyma (Begoniaceae).

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Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa; and.


Begonia dregei and B. homonyma (Begoniaceae), rare plants endemic to coastal forests of eastern South Africa, are two closely related species with high levels of variation among populations in the shape of leaves. Distribution of genetic variation and genetic relatedness were investigated in 12 populations of B. dregei and seven of B. homonyma using polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Twelve of the 15 enzyme loci examined were polymorphic, but only seven loci were polymorphic within at least one population. Genetic diversity measures indicated that the among-population gene differentiation represents >90% of the total genetic component in both species considered individually or combined. This indicated restricted gene flow, consistent with the limited dispersal abilities of Begonia generally and the ancient separation of isolated forest patches. Genetic distances among populations are much higher than usually found within species. Allozyme data provide no support for the recognition of B. dregei and B. homonyma as distinct species.

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