• Ficus exasperata;
  • Ficus hispida;
  • gene flow;
  • genetic diversity;
  • ISSR markers;
  • microsatellites;
  • spatial genetic structure;
  • tropical trees


Although Ficus (Moraceae) is a keystone plant genus in the tropics, providing resources to many frugivorous vertebrates, its population genetic structure, which is an important determinant of its long-term survival, has rarely been investigated. We examined the population genetic structure of two dioecious fig species (Ficus hispida and Ficus exasperata) in the Indian Western Ghats using co-dominant nuclear microsatellite markers. We found high levels of microsatellite genetic diversity in both species. The regression slopes between genetic relationship coefficients (fij) and spatial distances were significantly negative in both species indicating that, on average, individuals in close spatial proximity were more likely to be related than individuals further apart. Mean parent–offspring distance (σ) calculated using these slopes was about 200 m in both species. This should be contrasted with the very long pollen dispersal distances documented for monoecious Ficus species. Nevertheless, overall population genetic diversity remained large suggesting immigrant gene flow. Further studies will be required to analyze broader scale patterns.