Chloroplast DNA variation of Betula humilis Schrk. in Poland and BelarusReport as inadecuate

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Tree Genetics and Genomes

, Volume 8, Issue 5, pp 1017–1030

First Online: 14 March 2012Received: 19 July 2011Revised: 29 November 2011Accepted: 19 February 2012


Betula humilis is an endangered plant species in Central Europe. In order to protect this species, it is necessary to document its genetic diversity in this region and to identify areas for conservation prioritisation. As molecular investigations conducted throughout the ranges of many plant species have shown that the highest genetic diversities are found within former glacial refugia and-or within the contact zones of different phylogenetic lineages, we investigated the reasons underlying the considerable genetic variation of B. humilis in northeastern Poland revealed previously using nuclear microsatellites. We analysed 365 individuals of B. humilis from 19 populations and 67 specimens of Betula pendula and Betula pubescens sampled in four geographical regions in Poland and Belarus for polymorphism in chloroplast PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism markers. Genetic data strongly suggested that B. humilis could have survived the Last Glacial Maximum at higher latitudes, but the hypothesis of a refugium in southeastern Poland was rejected. Chloroplast DNA analysis confirmed high genetic diversity in some populations in northeastern Poland. This phenomenon can likely be explained in terms of a suture zone, as the high haplotypic richness was followed by hT ≤ vT. Similar patterns of haplotype distributions in the birches under study and high introgression ratio IG = 0.71 among B. humilis and congeneric trees suggested that postglacial recolonisation of the shrub birch was complicated by haplotype sharing with other birches.

KeywordsBetula humilis Chloroplast DNA Genetic diversity Glacial refugium PCR-RFLP Suture zone Communicated by S. Aitken

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Author: Katarzyna A. Jadwiszczak - Agata Banaszek - Ewa Jabłońska - Oleg V. Sozinov


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