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Amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers reveal that population structure of triploid dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) exhibits both clonality and recombination


R. G. M. van der Hulst. Fax: + 31 (0) 20 525 76 62;


Highly variable amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) fingerprints of triploid apomictic dandelions obtained from three localities in an area where diploids are lacking were analysed to infer the predominant modes of reproduction. The distribution of markers was analysed using character compatibility to infer whether many genotypes agree with a tree-like structure in the data set. The presence of incompatible character state combinations (matrix incompatibility; MI) was used as a measure of genetic exchange. The detection of overrepresented genotypes, of which some were widespread, confirmed asexual reproduction. Not all genotypes were overrepresented; approximately half of the genotypes in the three localities were found only once. Because, in terms of genotype frequencies, only a part of the genetic variation is described, more important aspects of the molecular data such as relationships between markers or genotypes have been studied. The analysis of character compatibility indicated a disagreement of the data with a clonal structure. Nearly all genotypes contributed to MI and this contribution varied considerably among genotypes in each sampled locality. A gradual decrease of matrix incompatibility upon successive deletion of genotypes showing the highest contribution to MI indicated that marker distribution of virtually all genotypes disagreed with a tree-like structure in the data. This result suggested that many genotypes were separated by one or more sexual generations. Consistent with this conclusion was the fact that markers that show a low probability of contributing to MI are different in every sampled locality, which is most easily explained as the result of recombination. Apparently, asexual reproduction has resulted in overrepresented, widespread genotypes but sexual recombination has also substantially contributed to genetic variation in the sites studied.