Spatial autocorrelation and linkage of Mendelian RAPD markers in a population of Picea abies Karst


Paolo Menozzi. Fax: + 39 0521905 402; E-mail:


The spatial clustering of single- and di-locus genotypes in a natural, continuous population of Norway spruce was investigated using 69 Mendelian Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA (RAPD) markers that covered about 15% of the species’ genome, and whose linkage relationships were known. Spatial autocorrelation techniques and randomization tests, applied to both single- and di-locus genotypes, revealed a weak, though significant, spatial structure at the scale 0–200 m (5% of single-locus and 7% of di-locus genotypes). To assess the relative importance of isolation by distance and linkage between markers on their spatial genetic structuring, we grouped joins between sampled trees into ‘equivalence categories’ expected to show similar, specific patterns of spatial distribution under isolation by distance. Results from both single- and di-locus analyses were consistent with the existence of patches of like homozygotes (about 8% and 11% of loci at the single- and di-locus level, respectively) surrounded by a mix of like heterozygotes. Similar structuring has been predicted by simulation models under isolation by distance and selective neutrality. Overall, linkage between markers accounted for an increase of spatial clumping of di-locus genotypes involving tightly linked loci with recombination fractions up to 0.1, a consequence of limited, stochastic spread of single-locus genotypes in space. Our results support the hypothesis that isolation by distance and linkage have a small, though significant, effect even within continuous forest tree populations. In general, the spatial distribution of multilocus genotypes within populations should be interpreted with caution when linkage relationships among the markers used are unknown.