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Temporal variation in genetic diversity and effective population size of Mediterranean and subalpine Arabidopsis thaliana populations

Authors

  • NASR H. GOMAA,

    1. Department of Botany, Faculty of Science, Beni-Suef University, Beni-Suef, Egypt
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  • ALICIA MONTESINOS-NAVARRO,

    1. Departamento de Ecología Integrativa, Estación Biológica de Doñana (EBD), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), 41092 Sevilla, Spain
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  • CARLOS ALONSO-BLANCO,

    1. Departamento de Genética Molecular de Plantas, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología (CNB), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), 28049 Madrid, Spain
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  • F. XAVIER PICÓ

    1. Departamento de Ecología Integrativa, Estación Biológica de Doñana (EBD), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), 41092 Sevilla, Spain
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F. Xavier Picó, Fax: +34 95 462 1125;
E-mail: xpico@ebd.csic.es

Abstract

Currently, there exists a limited knowledge on the extent of temporal variation in population genetic parameters of natural populations. Here, we study the extent of temporal variation in population genetics by genotyping 151 genome-wide SNP markers polymorphic in 466 individuals collected from nine populations of the annual plant Arabidopsis thaliana during 4 years. Populations are located along an altitudinal climatic gradient from Mediterranean to subalpine environments in NE Spain, which has been shown to influence key demographic attributes and life cycle adaptations. Genetically, A. thaliana populations were more variable across space than over time. Common multilocus genotypes were detected several years in the same population, whereas low-frequency multilocus genotypes appeared only 1 year. High-elevation populations were genetically poorer and more variable over time than low-elevation populations, which might be caused by a higher overall demographic instability at higher altitudes. Estimated effective population sizes were low but also showed a significant decreasing trend with increasing altitude, suggesting a deeper impact of genetic drift at high-elevation populations. In comparison with single-year samplings, repeated genotyping over time captured substantially higher amount of genetic variation contained in A. thaliana populations. Furthermore, repeated genotyping of populations provided novel information on the genetic properties of A. thaliana populations and allowed hypothesizing on their underlying mechanisms. Therefore, including temporal genotyping programmes into traditional population genetic studies can significantly increase our understanding of the dynamics of natural populations.

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