A climatic relict or a long distance disperser: conservation genetics of an Arctic disjunct polyploid plant

Laura Kvist, Leila Aminian, Rouger Romuald, Marjut Kreivi, Marika Laurila, Marko-Tapio Hyvärinen, Jouni Aspi, Annamari Markkola

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The Primula sibirica group is a set of approximately
a dozen Arctic, taxonomically unrelated plant
species that share a similar disjunct distribution on the
shores of the Arctic Ocean and the northernmost part of the
Baltic Sea. The origin of this phylogeographic pattern is
not known. It has been suggested, first, that the species
arrived after the last glaciation from the White Sea, second,
that they are relicts of once larger populations or, third, that
they arrived via jump dispersal. One of the species is the
polyploid Creeping alkali grass, Puccinellia phryganodes,
which is critically endangered in Finland. Here we used
microsatellite markers to study seven extant and three
extinct populations from coasts of the Bothnian Bay and
the Arctic Sea (N = 297). We estimated the genetic
diversity in the study populations and applied principal
component analysis and Bayesian and coalescence methods
to examine their population genetic structure and
evolutionary history. We found that the endangered Bothnian
Bay population still harbors a reasonably high amount
of genetic diversity and is differentiated from the geographically
closest populations. We show that Puccinellia
phryganodes is more likely a climatic relict in the Bothnian
Bay than a long-distance disperser and that the endangered
southern population should be considered as an evolutionary
significant unit rather than a mere representative of
the main population.
Original languageEnglish
JournalConservation Genetics
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1489-1499
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 1183 Plant biology, microbiology, virology

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