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Keywords:

  • cpDNA PCR-RFLP;
  • fruit bat;
  • long-distance colonization;
  • metapopulation;
  • Musa balbisiana;
  • phylogeography;
  • SSR fingerprinting;
  • vicariance;
  • wild banana

Abstract

Both demographic history and dispersal mechanisms influence the apportionment of genetic diversity among plant populations across geographical regions. In this study, phylogeography and population structure of wild banana, Musa balbisiana, one of the progenitors of cultivated bananas and plantains in China were investigated by an analysis of genetic diversity of simple sequence repeat (SSR) fingerprint markers and cpDNA PCR-RFLP. A chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) genealogy of 21 haplotypes identified two major clades, which correspond to two geographical regions separated by the Beijiang and Xijiang rivers, suggesting a history of vicariance. Significant genetic differentiation was detected among populations with cpDNA markers, a result consistent with limited seed dispersal in wild banana mediated by foraging of rodents. Nuclear SSR data also revealed significant geographical structuring in banana populations. In western China, however, there was no detected phylogeograpahical pattern, possibly due to frequent pollen flow via fruit bats. In contrast, populations east of the Beijiang River and the population of Hainan Island, where long-range soaring pollinators are absent, are genetically distinct. Colonization–extinction processes may have influenced the evolution of Musa populations, which have a metapopulation structure and are connected by migrating individuals. Effective gene flow via pollen, estimated from the nuclear SSR data, is 3.65 times greater than gene flow via seed, estimated from cpDNA data. Chloroplast and nuclear DNAs provide different insights into phylogeographical patterns of wild banana populations and, taken together, can inform conservation practices.