Low level of gene flow from cultivated beets (Beta vulgaris L. ssp. vulgaris) into Danish populations of sea beet (Beta vulgaris L. ssp. maritima (L.) Arcangeli)


Rikke Bagger Jørgensen, Fax: +45 46774160; E-mail: rikke.bagger.jorgensen@risoe.dk


Gene flow from sugar beets to sea beets occurs in the seed propagation areas in southern Europe. Some seed propagation also takes place in Denmark, but here the crop–wild gene flow has not been investigated. Hence, we studied gene flow to sea beet populations from sugar beet lines used in Danish seed propagation areas. A set of 12 Danish, two Swedish, one French, one Italian, one Dutch, and one Irish populations of sea beets, and four lines of sugar beet were analysed. To evaluate the genetic variation and gene flow, eight microsatellite loci were screened. This analysis revealed hybridization with cultivated beet in one of the sea beet populations from the centre of the Danish seed propagation area. Triploid hybrids found in this population were verified with flow cytometry. Possible hybrids or introgressed plants were also found in the French and Italian populations. However, individual assignment test using a Bayesian method provided 100% assignment success of diploid individuals into their correct subspecies of origin, and a Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo (MC MC) approach revealed clear distinction of individuals into groups according to their subspecies of origin, with a zero level of genetic admixture among subspecies. This underlines that introgression beyond the first hybridization is not extensive. The overall pattern of genetic distance and structure showed that Danish and Swedish sea beet populations were closely related to each other, and they are both more closely related to the population from Ireland than to the populations from France, the Netherlands, and Italy.