Current issue: 54(4)
Riparian trees, especially relict trees, are attractive and important for research to understand both past and recent biogeographical and evolutionary processes. Our work is the first study to elucidate the genetic diversity and spatial genetic structure of the canopy-dominating riparian Pterocarya fraxinifolia (Juglandaceae) along two altitudinal gradients in different river systems of the Hyrcanian forest, which is one of the most important refugium of relict trees in Western Eurasia. Altitudinal gradients were chosen along two river systems at 100, 400 and 900 m a.s.l. Leaf samples were collected from 116 trees, and the genetic diversity was evaluated with eight SSR markers. Overall, 39 alleles were identified for all of the populations studied. The observed heterozygosity (Ho) varied from 0.79 to 0.87 (with a mean of 0.83). The results of the AMOVA analysis indicated that the variation within populations was 88%, whereas the variation among populations was 12% for all of the gradients. A structure analysis indicated that 93% of the trees were grouped in the same gradient. The genetic distance based on Fst confirmed the structure result and indicated a high rate of gene flow among the investigated populations. Based on high gene flow (low differentiation of the population along the same river) and the clearly distinct genetic structure of the investigated gradients, it can be concluded that rivers are the main seed dispersal vector among P. fraxinifolia populations. The genetic diversity of P. fraxinifolia did not show any trend from upstream to downstream. The high level of gene flow and uniform genetic diversity along each river suggest the “classical” metapopulation structure of the species.
Castanea sativa Mill. is one of the most endangered tree species in Iran where it is represented by small fragmented populations in the north of the country. 18 simple sequence repeat (SSR) loci (10 nuclear and 8 chloroplastic) were used to evaluate the genetic diversity and population structure of C. sativa from the Hyrcanian forest. For nuclear SSR, the number of alleles detected per locus ranged from 1 to 5 and observed heterozygosity (HO) was between 0.125 and 1.000. Analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) indicated a high level of variation within populations (84%) and low levels between populations (16%). Based on structure analysis, the four studied populations were divided into two main clusters that have genetic distance Fst = 0.3. The Shafaroud population was separated in the first cluster, Siyahmazgi, Qalehroudkhan and Veysroud were placed in the second cluster. The UPGMA analysis confirmed the results of Structure analysis, separating the Shafaroud population from the others. The 8 chloroplast SSR loci used to screen the populations showed no polymorphism. In General, low nuclear genetic diversity, no polymorphism in cpDNA and considerable genetic differentiation among populations in short geographical distance represent a serious genetic erosion threat for C. sativa in the Hyrcanian forest, even hinting at an ongoing extinction vortex. Therefore, due to significant decline in genetic diversity, it is essential to introduce constraints protection upon the areas of distribution of all four populations of this species in Iran.
The effects of long-term habitat fragmentations on genetic and population differentiation of Betula pendula Roth were investigated using chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) variations. Leaf samples were collected from four small remnant populations across the north of Iran. Three pairs of universal primers were used to amplify cpDNA, large single copy regions of trnC-trnD, trnK1-trnK2 and trnD-trnT. A total of 18 of the cpDNA haplotypes in the four populations were identified, however, no clear phylogeographic structuring of haplotypes could be detected. The total genetic diversity (HT) for all populations was high (0.932). Average intra-population genetic diversity was estimated as HS = 0.729 and average differentiation of populations GST = 0.218. Mantel tests of isolation by distance revealed a significant relationship between Wright’s inbreeding coefficient (Fst) and geographical distances for the four populations in Iran (r = 0.77, p < 0.05). The results of the hierarchical analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) indicated that a 66% variation was partitioned within populations, whilst the variance amongst the four populations was only 34%. We suggest that significant genetic differentiation amongst populations can likely be attributed to reduced gene flow as a result of habitat fragmentation.