The distribution of plant species around the Mediterranean basin is a product of the influence of both geographical barriers and of climatic changes experienced during the Tertiary, with the transition from a warm to cool periods. Several species, once largely distributed across the Northern Hemisphere, retracted to refugial areas in southern Europe where they are described as Tertiary relicts. Platanus orientalis is a typical representative of Tertiary flora in southwest Eurasia; its distribution spreads from the Caucasus to the Mediterranean, with its western border in Southern Italy and Sicily. We analysed genetic diversity and differentiation in the centre and western part of its distribution range using nuclear microsatellites and compared genetic parameters between core and western populations. We found an overall decrease in genetic diversity estimates (heterozygosity, private allelic richness) from central towards western populations, with those from Southern Italy and Sicily showing the lowest values. The low level of genetic diversity probably results from historic range fragmentation experienced by P. orientalis in its westernmost distribution as confirmed by high level genetic isolation of these populations. Ornamental hybrids were genetically distinguished from P. orientalis as contained private alleles, indicating that gene flow with natural populations is rare. Population assignment and neighbour-joining (NJ) analysis of populations identified four groups belonging to two main phyletic groups (the Southern Italian-Sicilian-Balkan and Cretan-Bulgarian-Turkish lineages) that seem to have different biogeographic origin and also excluded an artificial origin for southern Italian and Sicilian populations as previously suggested. These results show that quantifying the genetic variation of a Tertiary relict in a geographical context, and the potential effect of hybridization with introduced ornamental hybrids, can provide useful insights on factors influencing population genetic structure. Such information is crucial to predict how such taxa will respond to increasing anthropogenic influence on the environment.
|Titolo:||The influence of a relict distribution on genetic structure and variation in the Mediterranean tree, Platanus orientalis|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2019|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|
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|Rinaldi_Cafasso_Strumia_Cristaudo_et_al_AoB_Plants.pdf||Articolo principale||Versione Editoriale (PDF)||Open Access Visualizza/Apri|