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Comparative population genetic structure in a plant–pollinator/seed predator system

Authors

  • ISABEL S. MAGALHAES,

    1. Department of Evolutionary Botany, Institute of Biology, University of Neuchâtel, Rue Emile-Argand 11, CH-2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland
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  • GABRIELA GLEISER,

    1. Department of Evolutionary Botany, Institute of Biology, University of Neuchâtel, Rue Emile-Argand 11, CH-2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland
    2. Laboratorio Ecotono, INIBIOMA, Universidad del Comahue, CONICET, 8400 Bariloche, Argentina
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  • ANNE-MARIE LABOUCHE,

    1. Department of Evolutionary Botany, Institute of Biology, University of Neuchâtel, Rue Emile-Argand 11, CH-2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland
    2. Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
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  • GIORGINA BERNASCONI

    1. Department of Evolutionary Botany, Institute of Biology, University of Neuchâtel, Rue Emile-Argand 11, CH-2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland
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Giorgina Bernasconi, Fax: +41 32 718 30 01; E-mail: gb2398@columbia.edu

Abstract

Comparative analyses of spatial genetic structure of populations of plants and the insects they interact with provide an indication of how gene flow, natural selection and genetic drift may jointly influence the distribution of genetic variation and potential for local co-adaptation for interacting species. Here, we analysed the spatial scale of genetic structure within and among nine populations of an interacting species pair, the white campion Silene latifolia and the moth Hadena bicruris, along a latitudinal gradient across Northern/Central Europe. This dioecious, short-lived perennial plant inhabits patchy, often disturbed environments. The moth H. bicruris acts both as its pollinator and specialist seed predator that reproduces by laying eggs in S. latifolia flowers. We used nine microsatellite markers for S. latifolia and eight newly developed markers for H. bicruris. We found high levels of inbreeding in most populations of both plant and pollinator/seed predator. Among populations, significant genetic structure was observed for S. latifolia but not for its pollinator/seed predator, suggesting that despite migration among populations of H. bicruris, pollen is not, or only rarely, carried over between populations, thus maintaining genetic structure among plant populations. There was a weak positive correlation between genetic distances of S. latifolia and H. bicruris. These results indicate that while significant structure of S. latifolia populations creates the potential for differentiation at traits relevant for the interaction with the pollinator/seed predator, substantial gene flow in H. bicruris may counteract this process in at least some populations.

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