Diversity and differentiation among three populations representing the geographical domains commonly recognized within the natural distribution area of Picea abies were analysed by using a set of 292 AFLP (amplified fragment length polymorphism), SSR (single sequence repeat) and ESTP (expressed sequence tags polymorphism) markers. As usually observed in forest trees, results showed high within-population diversity (HS reaching 0.79) and low among-population differentiation (GST≈ 2%). The genomic organization of differentiation was then investigated on the basis of a subsample of 150 AFLP, SSR and ESTP mapped markers. The number of the loci differentiating the Baltico-Nordic from the central European populations (25 loci) and, within the central European populations, the Alpine from the Hercyno-Carpathian populations (12 loci), were different. These 37 differentiated loci, with individual GST values ranging from 0.008 to 0.20, were evenly distributed on all linkage groups and mostly followed the neutral expectations, suggesting genome-wide effects on differentiation. Nine of them however behave as ‘outlier’ loci indicating possible locus-specific selective effects. Contribution of ongoing evolutionary forces and historical effects to the geographical differentiation of the species are discussed.
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