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Heredity (Edinb). 2003 Mar;90(3):212-9.

The Great Wall of China: a physical barrier to gene flow?

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  • 1National Laboratory of Protein Engineering and Plant Genetic Engineering, College of Life Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, People's Republic of China.


One population from each of six plant species along both sides of the Juyong-guan Great Wall, together with one population from each of five species along both sides of a path on a mountain top near Juyong-guan, were selected to study the effect of the Great Wall as a barrier on genetic differentiation between two subpopulations using RAPD markers. Significant genetic differentiation was found between the subpopulations on both sides of the Great Wall. A wind-pollinated woody species, Ulmus pumila, showed less genetic differentiation than four insect-pollinated species: Prunus armeniaca, Ziziphus jujuba, Vitex negundo, and Heteropappus hispidus. Cleistogenes caespitosa, a wind-pollinated perennial herb, displayed more genetic differentiation between subpopulations than the insect-pollinated species because of its propagation strategy. Although AMOVA analysis showed that subpopulations divided by a mountain path had diverged genetically, the variance component between the subpopulations on both sides of the Great Wall was significantly larger than that between the subpopulations at the control site. Therefore, it is reasonable to deduce that the Juyong-guan Great Wall has served as a physical barrier to gene flow between subpopulations separated for more than 600 years.

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