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Keywords:

  • Actinorhizal plant;
  • allozyme variation;
  • discriminant analysis;
  • early-successional plant;
  • gene flow;
  • introgressive hybridization

Germinated seeds from 11 populations of green alder [Alnus crispa (Ait.) Pursh] sampled in four Canadian provinces were analysed for electrophoretically demonstrable diversity of 10 enzymes encoded by 15 structural loci. Of these, nine were polymorphic, and on average, 52% of the loci per population were polymorphic. Assuming a diploid model of expression, average level of expected heterozygosity was 0.11 with nearly all populations in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium for the set of polymorphic loci analysed. No significant inbreeding and associated subpopulation structuring were noted. Rates of gene flow appeared high within and among populations. Although little divergence was observed among populations, genetic and geographical distances between populations were related. Discriminant and cluster analyses revealed a pattern of genetic variation associated with geography. Populations from northern Quebec were poorly differentiated, whereas western populations from Alberta exhibited a larger degree of genetic differentiation. Introgresive hybridization with the sympatric species Alnus sinuata (Regel) Rydberg and partial isolation in the West are suggested as an explanation for this larger differentiation. The occurrence and significance of rare alleles is discussed in relation to the importance of geographical distance in the process of population differentiation in this species.