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Mol Ecol. 2004 Jul;13(7):1871-82.

Population structure and phylogeography of Solanum pimpinellifolium inferred from a nuclear gene.

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Department of Biology, Washington University, 1 Brookings Drive, St Louis, MO 63130, USA.


Phylogeographical studies are emerging as a powerful tool for understanding the population structure and evolution of wild relatives of crop species. Because of their value as genetic resources, there is great interest in exploring the distribution of variation in wild relatives of cultivated plants. In this study, we use sequence variation from the nuclear gene, fruit vacuolar invertase (Vac), to investigate the population history of Solanum pimpinellifolium. Solanum pimpinellifolium is a close relative of the cultivated tomato and has repeatedly served as a source of valuable traits for crop improvement. We sequenced the second intron of the Vac gene in 129 individuals, representing 16 populations from the northern half of Peru. Patterns of haplotype sharing among populations indicate that there is isolation by distance. However, there is no congruence between the geographical distribution of haplotypes and their genealogical relationships. Levels of outcrossing decrease towards the southernmost populations, as previously observed in an allozyme study. The geographical pattern of Vac variation supports a centre of origin in northern Peru for S. pimpinellifolium and a gradual colonization along the Pacific coast. This implies that inbreeding populations are derived from outcrossing ones and that variation present at the Vac locus predates the spread of S. pimpinellifolium. The expansion of cities and human agricultural activity in the habitat of S. pimpinellifolium currently pose a threat to the species.

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