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Clonal diversity in a Rhododendron ferrugineum L. (Ericaceae) population inferred from AFLP markers

Authors

  • N. ESCARAVAGE,

    1. Laboratoire de Biologie des Populations d′Altitude, CNRS-UMR 5553, Université Joseph Fourier, BP 53, F-38041 Grenoble cedex 9, France,,
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  • S. QUESTIAU,

    1. Laboratoire de Biologie des Populations d′Altitude, CNRS-UMR 5553, Université Joseph Fourier, BP 53, F-38041 Grenoble cedex 9, France,,
    2. Laboratoire d′Evolution des Systèmes Naturels et Modifiés, CNRS-UMR 6553, Université de Rennes I, Avenue du Général Leclerc, F-35042 Rennes cedex, France,,
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  • A. PORNON,

    1. Laboratoire d′Ecologie Terrestre, CNRS-UMR 5552, Université Paul Sabatier, 39 allée Jules Guesde, 31062 Toulouse cedex, France
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  • B. DOCHE,

    1. Laboratoire de Biologie des Populations d′Altitude, CNRS-UMR 5553, Université Joseph Fourier, BP 53, F-38041 Grenoble cedex 9, France,,
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  • P. TABERLET

    1. Laboratoire de Biologie des Populations d′Altitude, CNRS-UMR 5553, Université Joseph Fourier, BP 53, F-38041 Grenoble cedex 9, France,,
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B. Doche Fax: +33 4 76 51 42 79; E-mail: Bernard.Doche@ujf-grenoble.fr

Abstract

In the European Alps, Rhododendron ferrugineum can constitute dense populations with almost 100% of cover. The developmental pattern by layering and the resulting complexity of population structure make it difficult to identify distinct clones even by excavation. Therefore genotypic structure of a R. ferrugineum population, in the French Alps, was inferred from AFLP markers. In a first step, we analysed 400 samples using AFLP profiles generated by one selective primer pair. Seventeen bands out of 25 were polymorphic (68%). We identified a total of 32 multilocus genotypes. In a second step, the 32 genotypes were verified by applying two additional primer pairs to the two most distant samples from each genotype. The mean similarity (proportion of band sharing) between pairs of clones was 0.85 (range from 0.52 to 0.94). The spatial distribution of clones showed that vegetative spreading mainly occurred down a slope. Based on an annual shoot mean growth of 2.6 cm/year and the size of the widest clone, we estimated the age of the oldest individual to be at least 300 years. A single genotype can occupy a large surface and sometimes form a dense patch, suggesting that this species adopts a phalanx growth form with limited intermingling of some genets.

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