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Keywords:

  • amplified fragment length polymorphisms;
  • Carex;
  • chromosome rearrangements;
  • Cyperaceae;
  • holocentric chromosomes;
  • karyotype evolution

Abstract

Chromosome rearrangements may affect the rate and patterns of gene flow within species, through reduced fitness of structural heterozygotes or by reducing recombination rates in rearranged areas of the genome. While the effects of chromosome rearrangements on gene flow have been studied in a wide range of organisms with monocentric chromosomes, the effects of rearrangements in holocentric chromosomes—chromosomes in which centromeric activity is distributed along the length of the chromosome—have not. We collected chromosome number and molecular genetic data in Carex scoparia, an eastern North American plant species with holocentric chromosomes and highly variable karyotype (2n = 56–70). There are no deep genetic breaks within C. scoparia that would suggest cryptic species differentiation. However, genetic distance between individuals is positively correlated with chromosome number difference and geographic distance. A positive correlation is also found between chromosome number and genetic distance in the western North American C. pachystachya (2n = 74–81). These findings suggest that geographic distance and the number of karyotype rearrangements separating populations affect the rate of gene flow between those populations. This is the first study to quantify the effects of holocentric chromosome rearrangements on the partitioning of intraspecific genetic variance.