Genetic races associated with the genera and sections of host species in the holoparasitic plant Cytinus (Cytinaceae) in the Western Mediterranean basin


Author for correspondence:
Clara de Vega
Tel: +34 954557052
Fax: +34 954557059


  • • Speciation via race formation is an important evolutionary process in parasites, producing changes that favour their development on particular host species. Here, the holoparasitic plant Cytinus, which has diverse host species in the family Cistaceae, has been used to study the occurrence of such races.
  • • Amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) analyses were performed on 174 individuals of 22 populations parasitizing 10 Cistaceae species in the Western Mediterranean basin.
  • • Neighbour-joining, multivariate ordination analyses, and individual-based Bayesian analyses, clustered Cytinus populations into five well-characterized genetic races that, overall, agreed with the taxonomic sections of their hosts. In the AMOVA, among-races differences accounted for almost 50% of the genetic variation. The isolation-by-distance model was not supported by a Mantel test among Cytinus populations (r = 0.012; P = 0.456). All races showed low within-population genetic diversity, probably as a result of restricted pollen flow aggravated by flowering asynchrony, restricted seed dispersion, or stochastic processes.
  • • The genetic differentiation among the five races of Cytinus is congruent with the view that these races are well-characterized lineages that have evolved independently as a result of selective pressures imposed by their hosts. This pattern, with genetically distinctive groups associated with the infrageneric sections of the host species, has not been reported previously for parasitic angiosperms.