We investigated the patterns of genetic diversity and structure in seven disjunct populations of a rare North American orchid, Cypripedium kentuckiense by including populations that represented the periphery and the center of the its range. Eight nuclear and two chloroplast microsatellites were used. Genetic diversity was low across the sampled populations of C. kentuckiense based on both nuclear (average An = 4.0, Ho = 0.436, He = 0.448) and cpDNA microsatellites (average An = 1.57, Nh = 1.57 and H = 0.133). The number of private alleles ranged from one to four per population with a total of 17 private alleles detected at five nuclear microsatellites. One private allele at one cpDNA microsatellite was also observed. Although the absolute values for nuclear microsatellite based population differentiation were low (Fst = 0.075; ϕPT = 0.24), they were statistically significant. Pairwise Fst values ranged from 0.038 to 0.123 and each comparison was significant. We also detected isolation by distance with nDNA microsatellites based on the Mantel test (r2 = 0.209, P = 0.05). STRUCTURE analysis and the neighbor joining trees grouped the populations similarly whereby the geographically proximal populations were genetically similar. Our data indicate that the species is genetically depauperate but the diversity is distributed more or less equally across its range. Population differentiation and isolation by distance were detectable, which indicates that genetic isolation is beginning to manifest itself across the range in this rare species.
- Genetic diversity
- Population differentiation
- Simple Sequence Repeats (SSRs)