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Microsatellite analysis of the inbreeding grass weed Barren Brome (Anisantha sterilis) reveals genetic diversity at the within- and between-farm scales


A. Karp. Fax: 01275-394007;


Nine microsatellites were used to screen 131 samples of Barren Brome (Anisantha sterilis: synonym Bromus sterilis) collected from within the fields of three English farms [from Oxfordshire (Oxon), Leicestershire (Leics) and Wiltshire (Wilts)] and eight seeds taken from samples of each of 10 farms across England, UK. Most individuals (~97%) were homozygous. Polymorphism occurred at all nine loci in all three farms sampled at the field scale, and at most loci for nine of the other 10 farm samples. Between three and 11 alleles were found per locus. Gene diversity (D = 1 − ∑pi2) ranged from 0.088 to 0.760. Polymorphism occurred among individuals within and among fields, and farms. Some alleles were found in only one farm. On the basis of the alleles at all nine loci in the 211 sampled plants, a total of 92 (44%) different genotypes was identified. Clustering analysis using the unweighted pair group method with arithmetic averages (upgma) for the combined Oxon, Wilts and Leics samples did not cluster them into their respective farms. Similarly, a phenogram of samples from all 10 farms showed considerable mixing of individuals with respect to farm origins. Identification of genotypes on field plans showed evidence of both spatial localization and mixing. Previous reports have suggested that A. sterilis is strictly inbreeding with little intrapopulation variation at the genetic level. Our data reveal that A. sterilis exists as numerous separate and genetically different lines, which are maintained by inbreeding but which very occasionally outcross. Possible explanations for this pattern of high genetic diversity are discussed.