The routes through which Norway spruce recolonized the Alps after the last ice age were investigated at the genetic level. Seven populations along the Alpine range plus one Apennine population were characterized for seven sequence-characterized amplified region (SCAR) loci, detecting an overall FST = 0.118. This rather high value for forest species reflects an uneven distribution of genetic variability, and was analysed through different statistical methods. Alternative hypotheses were tested under the isolation-by-distance model and using the analysis of molecular variance ( amova) frame. We conclude that the hypothesis of the existence of a glacial refugium in the Apennines should be rejected, while a putative relict population is identified in the Maritime Alps. The Alpine range of Norway spruce appears to be split in two parts across a north–south line. The results are discussed in comparison with data based on morphological markers, isozymes, chloroplast microsatellites and mitochondrial markers.
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