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Keywords:

  • clonal;
  • clone identification;
  • genetic diversity;
  • RAPD;
  • Vaccinium stamineum

Abstract

Once thought to be dominated by a few genets, clonal plant populations can contain high levels of genetic diversity. Sexual reproduction and vegetative growth strategy affect the amount and distribution of genetic diversity within clonal plant populations. We determined the scale of genetic diversity in a population of Vaccinium stamineum, a clonal shrub that forms discrete patches. Using the random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) technique, we surveyed the genetic diversity of V. stamineum within and among patches from a 1-ha site. We found 67 unique RAPD profiles among the 99 sampled individuals from 22 patches. In two patches, all the sampled individuals had the same RAPD profile. In seven patches, every individual sampled had a different RAPD profile. The remaining patches showed mixed RAPD profiles which suggested both clonal and sexual reproduction. Each unique RAPD profile was restricted to one patch (with one exception), which suggests that clonal growth occurs at the patch scale. High levels of genetic variation within some patches may be explained by somatic mutation; however, seedling recruitment is a more likely explanation.