• Alps;
  • Arabidopsis halleri;
  • chloroplast DNA;
  • ecogeography;
  • nuclear microsatellite;
  • phylogeography;
  • pseudometallophyte


  • Arabidopsis halleri is a pseudometallophyte involved in numerous molecular studies of the adaptation to anthropogenic metal stress. In order to test the representativeness of genetic accessions commonly used in these studies, we investigated the A. halleri population genetic structure in Europe.
  • Microsatellite and nucleotide polymorphisms from the nuclear and chloroplast genomes, respectively, were used to genotype 65 populations scattered over Europe.
  • The large-scale population structure was characterized by a significant phylogeographic signal between two major genetic units. The localization of the phylogeographic break was assumed to result from vicariance between large populations isolated in southern and central Europe, on either side of ice sheets covering the Alps during the Quaternary ice ages. Genetic isolation was shown to be maintained in western Europe by the high summits of the Alps, whereas admixture was detected in the Carpathians.
  • Considering the phylogeographic literature, our results suggest a distinct phylogeographic pattern for European species occurring in both mountain and lowland habitats. Considering the evolution of metal adaptation in A. halleri, it appears that recent adaptations to anthropogenic metal stress that have occurred within either phylogeographic unit should be regarded as independent events that potentially have involved the evolution of a variety of genetic mechanisms.