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Genetic variability in natural populations of Arabidopsis thaliana in northern Europe


H. K. Stenøien. Fax: + 46 18 55 34 19; E-mail:


Ten populations of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana were collected along a north–south gradient in Norway and screened for microsatellite polymorphisms in 25 loci and variability in quantitative traits. Overall, the average levels of genetic diversity were found to be relatively high in these populations, compared to previously published surveys of within population variability. Six of the populations were polymorphic at microsatellite loci, resulting in an overall proportion of polymorphic loci of 18%, and a relatively high gene diversity for a selfing species (HE = 0.06). Of the overall variability, 12% was found within populations. Two of six polymorphic populations contained heterozygous individuals. Both FST and phylogenetic analyses showed no correlation between geographical and genetic distances. Haplotypic diversity patterns suggested postglacial colonization of Scandinavia from a number of different sources. Heritable variation was observed for many of the studied quantitative traits, with all populations showing variability in at least some traits, even populations with no microsatellite variability. There was a positive association between variability in quantitative traits and microsatellites within populations. Several quantitative traits exhibited QST values significantly less than FST, suggesting that selection may be acting to retard differentiation for these traits.