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Fine-scale spatial genetic structure and gene dispersal in Silene latifolia

Barluenga, M.; Austerlitz, F.; Elzinga, J.A.; Teixeira, S.; Goudet, J.; Bernasconi, G.

Heredity 106(1): 13-24

2011


ISSN/ISBN: 0018-067X
PMID: 20389310
DOI: 10.1038/hdy.2010.38
Accession: 071782238

Plants are sessile organisms, often characterized by limited dispersal. Seeds and pollen are the critical stages for gene flow. Here we investigate spatial genetic structure, gene dispersal and the relative contribution of pollen vs seed in the movement of genes in a stable metapopulation of the white campion Silene latifolia within its native range. This short-lived perennial plant is dioecious, has gravity-dispersed seeds and moth-mediated pollination. Direct measures of pollen dispersal suggested that large populations receive more pollen than small isolated populations and that most gene flow occurs within tens of meters. However, these studies were performed in the newly colonized range (North America) where the specialist pollinator is absent. In the native range (Europe), gene dispersal could fall on a different spatial scale. We genotyped 258 individuals from large and small (15) subpopulations along a 60 km, elongated metapopulation in Europe using six highly variable microsatellite markers, two X-linked and four autosomal. We found substantial genetic differentiation among subpopulations (global F(ST)=0.11) and a general pattern of isolation by distance over the whole sampled area. Spatial autocorrelation revealed high relatedness among neighboring individuals over hundreds of meters. Estimates of gene dispersal revealed gene flow at the scale of tens of meters (5-30 m), similar to the newly colonized range. Contrary to expectations, estimates of dispersal based on X and autosomal markers showed very similar ranges, suggesting similar levels of pollen and seed dispersal. This may be explained by stochastic events of extensive seed dispersal in this area and limited pollen dispersal.

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