A hierarchical analysis of minisatellite DNA diversity in Gambel oak (Quercus gambelii Nutt.; Fagaceae)


S. H. Rogstad Fax: +01 513 556 5299; E-mail: steven.rogstad@uc.edu


Gambel oak is a short shrub to medium-sized tree of southwest North America for which the potential to grow in large clonal stands has been proposed. Here we use three different multilocus VNTR DNA probes (synthesized via PCR) to demonstrate that clones growing together can be identified, but individual clones exceeding 50 m in diameter do not commonly occur in the study population of Quercus gambelii. Further, using a hierarchical sampling scheme (three circular transects with diameters of 9, 1100, and 28 000 m), we estimate that for nonclonal individuals: (i) mean number of bands analysed per individual = 22.92; (ii) mean similarity (band sharing) between individuals = 0.322; (iii) mean probability that two randomly chosen individuals share all bands = 4.93 × 10–11; and (iv) mean estimated heterozygosity = 0.796. FST calculated for the two nonclonal levels of the sampling hierarchy was 0.023, indicating that little genetic differentiation exists between them. These results support previous findings that, due to life-history traits of the genus and this species (out-crossing, wind-pollinated, animal-dispersed, long-lived woody perennials), gene flow is high and genetic subdivision of populations is low in oaks. At this study site, the clonal nature demonstrated for Gambel oak appears to have little detectable effect on these population genetic characteristics.