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Keywords:

  • Arabidopsis;
  • biodiversity;
  • biogeography;
  • DNA sequence analysis;
  • Geographical Information Systems;
  • metadata analysis

Abstract

A Geographical Information System (GIS) is used to analyse allelic information of 13 sequenced loci of natural populations of Arabidopsis thaliana and to identify geographical structures. GIS provides tools for visualization and analysis of geographical population structures using molecular data. The geographical distribution of the number of variable positions in the alignments, the distribution of recombinant sequence blocks, and the distribution of a newly defined measure, the differentiation index, are studied. The differentiation index is introduced to measure the sequence divergence among individual plants sampled from various geographical localities. The numbers of variable positions and the differentiation index are also used for a metadata analysis covering about 26 kb of the genome. This analysis reveals, for the first time, differences in DNA sequence structures of geographically different populations of A. thaliana. The broadly defined west Mediterranean region consists of accessions with the highest numbers of polymorphic positions followed by the west European region. The GIS technology Kriging is used to define Arabidopsis specific diversity zones in Europe. The highest genetic variability is observed along the Atlantic coast from the western Iberian Peninsula to southern Great Britain, while lowest variability is found in central Europe.