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Keywords:

  • clonality;
  • Cymodocea nodosa;
  • dioecy;
  • microsatellites;
  • spatial autocorrelation;
  • spatial genetic structure

Abstract

We used seven microsatellite loci to characterize genetic structure and clonal architecture at three different spatial scales (from meters to centimetres) of a Cymodocea nodosa population. C. nodosa exhibits both sexual reproduction and vegetative propagation by rhizome elongation. Seeds remain buried in the sediment nearby the mother plant in a dormant stage until germination. Seed dispersal potential is therefore expected to be extremely restricted. High clonal diversity (up to 67% of distinct genotypes) and a highly intermingled configuration of genets at different spatial scales were found. No significant differences in genetic structure were found among the three spatial scales, indicating that genetic diversity is evenly distributed along the meadow. Autocorrelation analyses of kinship estimates confirmed the absence of spatial clumping of genets at small spatial scale and the expectations of a very restricted seed dispersal (observed dispersal range 1–21 m) in this species.