• cpDNA;
  • genetic diversity;
  • Juniperus sabina;
  • phylogeography;
  • range expansion

Abstract  In this study, we aimed to study the phylogeographic pattern of Juniperus sabina, a shrub species commonly occurring in the northern, northwestern and western China. We sequenced three chloroplast DNA fragments (trnL-trnF, trnS-trnG, and trnD-trnT) for 137 individuals from 16 populations of this species. Five chloroplast DNA chlorotypes (A, B, C, D, and E) were identified and they showed no overlapping distribution. The population subdivision is very high (GST= 0.926, NST= 0.980), suggesting a distinct phylogeographic structure (NST > GST, P < 0.05). Phylogenetic analyses of the five chlorotypes were clustered into three clades, consistent with their respective distributions in three separate regions: northern Xinjiang, western Xinjiang, and northern-northwestern China. However, within each region, the interpopulation differentiation is extremely low. These results as well as statistical tests suggested distinct allopatric differentiations between regional populations and independent glacial refugia for postglacial recolonization. The deserts that developed during the late Quaternary might have acted as effective barriers to promote genetic differentiation among these regions. However, the low diversity dominated by the single chlorotype within each fragmented region suggested that all current populations were derived from a common regional range expansion.