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Heredity (Edinb). 2009 Jun;102(6):549-62. doi: 10.1038/hdy.2009.16. Epub 2009 Mar 4.

Combined analysis of nuclear and mitochondrial markers provide new insight into the genetic structure of North European Picea abies.

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Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute, As, Norway.


Norway spruce of northern Europe expanded at the end of the last glacial out of one refugium in Russia. To provide a detailed insight into how the genetic structure in the northern European lineage of this species has been shaped by postglacial migration, recurrent pollen flow and marginality, we here compare variation at seven highly variable nuclear microsatellite loci in 37 populations (1715 trees) with mitochondrial DNA variation. Microsatellite diversity was high (H(E)=0.640) and genetic differentiation was low (F(ST)=0.029). The microsatellite structure supported a mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)-based hypothesis of two migration routes out of a single Russian refugium; one northwestern over Finland to northern Scandinavia, and one southwestern across the Baltic Sea into southern Scandinavia. Microsatellite diversity was maintained along the southwestern migration routes, whereas a significant decrease was observed towards the north. In contrast, the mtDNA diversity suggested higher amounts of historical gene flow towards the north than along the southwestern migration route. This suggests that the loss of nuclear diversity after postglacial colonization has been efficiently replenished by pollen-mediated gene flow in the south. Towards the north, smaller effective population size because of more limited seed and pollen production may have caused decreased nuclear diversity and increased inbreeding, reflecting the ecological marginality of the species in the north.

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