Nuclear and chloroplast microsatellites reveal extreme population differentiation and limited gene flow in the Aegean endemic Brassica cretica (Brassicaceae)


Alf Ceplitis, Fax: +46-46-147478, E-mail:


Nuclear and chloroplast microsatellite markers were used to study population structure and gene flow among seven Cretan populations of the Aegean endemic plant species Brassica cretica (Brassicaceae). Both nuclear and chloroplast markers revealed exceptionally high levels of population differentiation (overall FST = 0.628 and 1.000, respectively) and relatively little within-population diversity (overall HS = 0.211 and 0.000, respectively). Maximum-likelihood estimates of directional migration rates were low among all pairs of populations (average Nm = 0.286). There was no evidence that differences in flower colour between populations had any influence on historical levels of gene flow. In addition, a haplotype network showed that all five chloroplast haplotypes found in the sample were closely related. Together, these results suggest that current patterns of diversification in B. cretica are mainly a result of genetic drift during the last half million years. The main conclusions from the present study are consistent with the prevailing hypothesis that plant diversification in the Aegean region is driven by random rather than adaptive differentiation among isolated populations.