• cpDNA;
  • geographical structure;
  • microsatellites;
  • mtDNA;
  • phylogeography;
  • variation


Plants offer excellent models to investigate how gene flow shapes the organization of genetic diversity. Their three genomes can have different modes of transmission and will hence experience varying levels of gene flow. We have compiled studies of genetic structure based on chloroplast DNA (cpDNA), mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and nuclear markers in seed plants. Based on a data set of 183 species belonging to 103 genera and 52 families, we show that the precision of estimates of genetic differentiation (GST) used to infer gene flow is mostly constrained by the sampling of populations. Mode of inheritance appears to have a major effect on GST. Maternally inherited genomes experience considerably more subdivision (median value of 0.67) than paternally or biparentally inherited genomes (∼0.10). GST at cpDNA and mtDNA markers covary narrowly when both genomes are maternally inherited, whereas GST at paternally and biparentally inherited markers also covary positively but more loosely and GST at maternally inherited markers are largely independent of values based on nuclear markers. A model-based gross estimate suggests that, at the rangewide scale, historical levels of pollen flow are generally at least an order of magnitude larger than levels of seed flow (median of the pollen-to-seed migration ratio: 17) and that pollen and seed gene flow vary independently across species. Finally, we show that measures of subdivision that take into account the degree of similarity between haplotypes (NST or RST) make better use of the information inherent in haplotype data than standard measures based on allele frequencies only.