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Keywords:

  • biogeography;
  • clonal reproduction;
  • lichenized fungi;
  • long-distance dispersal;
  • population genetics;
  • recombination;
  • sexual reproduction

Abstract

Our data on the intercontinental population biology of Letharia vulpina show an unexpected shift from a recombining North American population with unique haplotypes to genetically depauperate Swedish and Italian populations, each with many representatives of a single repeated haplotype. Analysis of eight loci in 47 individuals supported recombination in North American populations and showed almost no variation among European populations. We infer that a genetic bottleneck caused by limited long-distance dispersal accounts for the lack of genetic variation found in marginal populations. This lack of variation in the European populations makes it impossible to use population genetic means to distinguish clonal reproduction from self-fertilization or even outcrossing, but phenotype indicates that reproduction in the marginal populations is by clonal spread, via soredia and isidioid soredia.