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Genetic diversity and population structure in Tradescantia hirsuticaulis (Commelinaceae)

Genetic diversity and population structure in Tradescantia hirsuticaulis (Commelinaceae)

American Journal of Botany 80(8): 959-966

Tradescantia hirsuticaulis, the hairy-stemmed spiderwort, is an insect-pollinated perennial plant species found primarily on rock outcrops in Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama. Although populations of T. hirsuticaulis are rare and scattered, local populations are frequently large. Levels of genetic variation were assessed for 13 populations representing the species' range in these three states. Despite the disjunct distribution of this habitat specialist and apparent lack of specialized seed and pollen dispersal mechanisms, exceptionally high levels of genetic variation are maintained within the species, with a moderate level of variation (18%) found among populations. Twenty-nine of the 33 loci resolved (88%) were polymorphic within the species; the mean number of loci polymorphic within populations was 54%. The mean number of alleles per polymorphic locus was 3.24 across all populations and averaged 2.37 within populations. Genetic diversity was 0.206 for the species, whereas mean population genetic diversity was 0.157, both much higher than the average for other short-lived herbaceous perennials. Estimated levels of gene flow were moderate (Nm = 0.95), and a significant association between geographic distance and genetic distance between populations was found (r = 0.68; P < 0.0001). Habitat destruction is the major threat to this genetically diverse species. Since gene flow among its highly dispersed populations is limited, diminution or extinction of local populations could jeopardize the long-term evolutionary potential of this species.

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Accession: 002390730

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DOI: 10.2307/2445517

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