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Plant Biol (Stuttg). 2014 Sep;16(5):924-34. doi: 10.1111/plb.12143. Epub 2014 Jan 8.

Morphological versus genetic diversity of Viola reichenbachiana and V. riviniana (sect. Viola, Violaceae) from soils differing in heavy metal content.

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Department of Plant Cytology and Embryology, Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland.


Morphological characters, AFLP markers and flow cytometry were used to investigate the morphological and genetic variability and differentiation of Viola reichenbachiana and V. riviniana in non-metallicolous (NM) and metallicolous (M) populations. The aims were to clarify the taxonomic status of plants occurring in ore-bearing areas, to determine any relationship in V. reichenbachiana and V. riviniana from sites not polluted with heavy metals, and to examine the genetic variability and differentiation of M and NM populations of both species. Multivariate analyses based on morphological characters showed significant differences between V. reichenbachiana and V. riviniana from non-polluted sites, high levels of intra- and inter-population variability, and the occurrence of inter-specific hybrids. Plants from M populations showed hybrid characters but also fell within the range of V. riviniana or V. reichenbachiana. There were no significant differences in relative genome size between plants from polluted areas and V. riviniana from NM populations. Bayesian analysis of population genetic structure based on AFLP markers distinguished two main groups: V. reichenbachiana and V. riviniana together with the M populations. That analysis also revealed the occurrence of populations of inter-specific hybrids from non-polluted areas. Further Bayesian analysis of V. riviniana including NM and M populations separated all the studied M populations from NM populations. We conclude that plants forming the M populations are well adapted to a metal-polluted environment, and could be considered as stabilised introgressive forms resulting from unidirectional (asymmetric) introgression toward V. riviniana.


Amplified fragment length polymorphism markers; Viola; asymmetric introgression; genome size; heavy metal pollution; hybrids

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