Allozyme diversity and genetic structure in South-Western populations of heather, Calluna vulgaris

Authors

  • G. MAHY,

    Corresponding author
    1. Unité d'Ecologie et de Biogéographie, Université catholique de Louvain, Place Croix du Sud 5, B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
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  • X. VEKEMANS,

    1. Laboratoire de Génétique et d'Ecologie Végétales, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Chausée de Wavre 1850, B-1160 Bruxelles, Belgium
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  • AL. JACQUEMART,

    1. Unité d'Ecologie et de Biogéographie, Université catholique de Louvain, Place Croix du Sud 5, B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
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  • JR. DE SLOOVER

    1. Unité d'Ecologie et de Biogéographie, Université catholique de Louvain, Place Croix du Sud 5, B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
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*To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: Mahy@ecol.ucl.ac.be

summary

Genetic diversity, population genetic structure and gene flow in Calluna vulgaris (L.) Hull were assessed by means of seven allozyme loci scored in 18 populations from the South-Western area of the species' range. Genetic diversity was lower (HT= 0.20) than reported for long-lived widespread species but was characterized by a high number of alleles per locus (5.60 at the species level) of which more than 70% were rare. More than 95% of genetic variation was found at the intrapopulation level (GST= 0.047). High levels of past gene flow were inferred, based on the allozyme data (Nm= 5.2 from GST. Nm= 10.2 from the ‘private allele’ method). Calluna vulgaris exhibited several geographic patterns of genetic variation. Both cluster analysis, constructed with various genetic distances and principal components analysis showed that Spanish and Pyrenean populations were clearly different from those collected in the Massif Central and Belgium. Also, a trend for decreasing genetic diversity towards Northern populations was detected. These patterns might be related to the post-glacial history of Calluna. In addition, it is shown that isolation by distance has played a role in the geographic shaping of genetic variation in this species.

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