Current issue: 53(2)
Under compilation: 53(3)
Prunus serotina Ehrh. (black cherry) is one of the most important invaders in the European forests, but existing studies have given limited insight into demo-genetic factors underpinning the process of species invasion. Fine-scale genetic structure (FSGS) may deliver important knowledge on genetics of invasion contributing to efficient management of the alien species. Using eight microsatellites we investigated FSGS, clonal structure and relatedness in four black cherry populations which represented different stages of the invasive spread into Scots pine forests. Three populations were in a continuous forest complex and represented the colonization (Z_1) and established stages (Z_2 and Z_3). To investigate how colonization ability of the species is modified by landscape features, we analyzed an isolated population at colonization stage located in limited forest patch located in an agricultural landscape (R). Populations from continuous forest showed low yet significant positive FSGS with Sp = 0.0068 in Z_1, 0.0054 in Z_2, and 0.0066 in Z_3, while in R spatial structure was the strongest (0.0145). Considerable relatedness noted in population R suggests a dominance of within-population mating and recruitments, low immigration rate and limited seed dispersal, all of which led to the observed strong FSGS. Also, we presume that a founder effect likely involved during colonization of isolated forest patch R led to strong FSGS. In contrary, the seed shadow overlap in the populations from continuous forest prevented strong FSGS and facilitated colonization. Despite of low level of clonality, we argue that it may efficiently support black cherry seedling bank contributing to species invasiveness.
English yew (Taxus baccata L.) is a strictly outcrossing and dioecious species whose populations are small and isolated. It is known that sex ratios may vary in natural populations due to local environmental conditions or stochastic events. However, unbalanced sex ratios may have negative impacts on genetic diversity through enhanced genetic drift and inbreeding. The present study represents one of the first attempts to compare the genetic variation at microsatellite loci within and between populations with different gender proportions. Our results indicated that there were no significant correlations between sex ratio and the extent of genetic variation in different populations. All populations exhibited high levels of genetic diversity. Additionally, the genetic structure was characterized separately in male and female individuals. Statistical analyses of the set estimators describing the genetic structure of male and female individuals of T. baccata revealed no significant differences between the two groups. Molecular analysis verified that microsatellite nuclear loci neutrality developed for T. baccata, as there were no significant differences in the genetic variation between males and females and no evidence for any outlier loci using coalescent and hierarchical Bayesian simulations. The results demonstrate that ignoring biased sex ratios in T. baccata populations had no effect on the assessment of genetic differentiation and genetic diversity within and between populations of this species. These results are discussed with regards to the practical application of molecular markers in conservation programs.