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Genetica. 2009 May;136(1):79-88. doi: 10.1007/s10709-008-9314-2. Epub 2008 Aug 30.

The effect of different glaciation patterns over the current genetic structure of the southern beech Nothofagus antarctica.

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Unidad de Genética Forestal - Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria EEA Bariloche, CC 277, 8400 Bariloche, Argentina.


Different regional patterns of glaciation are expected to have brought about a differential effect on the present genetic structure of natural tree populations in the temperate regions. The aim of the present study is to test this hypothesis in Nothofagus antarctica, a key tree species of the temperate forests of southern South America. An almost continuous ice layer characterized the region of the Andes south of 41 degrees S, while towards northern latitudes the pattern was more fragmented. Therefore, a higher chance for the location of larger or more numerous glacial refuges in the north of the Argentinean range, leads us to predict a higher genetic diversity in this region. Twelve natural populations of N. antarctica were sampled along the northern half of its Argentinean range, including six above 41 degrees S and six below that latitude. Sampled populations were genetically characterized through cpDNA and isozyme gene markers. Both groups of populations were compared by means of several diversity and differentiation parameters. A genetic structure analysis was conducted with isozyme data through clustering and Bayesian approaches. Based on three polymorphic chloroplast regions, only two haplotypes were distinguished, one corresponding to the nine northernmost sampled populations and the other to the two southernmost ones. Only the population located between those two groups resulted polymorphic. AMOVA analyses also revealed a latitudinal genetic structure for the populations surveyed, and higher levels of genetic variation were recognized in the northern populations.

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