Genetic differentiation in natural populations of a Keystone Bunchgrass (Aristida stricta) across its native range

Jyotsna Sharma, Sheeja George, Madhav Pandey, Jeff Norcini, Hector Perez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Aristida stricta Michx. (Poaceae) is a perennial bunchgrass native to the Southeastern Coastal Plain of North America where it is a keystone species in the longleaf pine savannas and slash pine flatwoods from southeastern North Carolina to Florida, and westward to the coast of Mississippi. We examined genetic relationships within and among ten populations of A. stricta by using eight inter-simple sequence repeat (ISSR) markers to generate band frequency data for 32 individuals from each sampled population. An analysis of molecular variance showed that 38% of the variation resided among populations while 62% was attributable to variation within populations. Grouping the populations by habitat or by geographic location did not show significant differentiation between the groups. Overall, pair-wise geographic and genetic distances were not correlated. Data indicate that while individuals within each population are genetically diverse, there seemingly are barriers to gene flow across populations leading to their divergence. Each population contains several exclusive loci suggesting that limited gene flow and/or genetic drift are likely leading to this pattern of localization. Our results, coupled with those of the previous studies that presented evidence for local adaptation and phenotypic differences among populations, suggest that there is sufficient differentiation among populations of this species to warrant: (1) maintenance of the existing genetic diversity at individual sites, and (2) use of local seed and plant sources for conservation projects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-271
Number of pages11
JournalGenetica
Volume139
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2011

Keywords

  • Conservation
  • Inter-simple sequence repeat
  • Long-leaf pine ecosystem
  • Restoration
  • Southeastern coastal plain

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