Journal Article

Microsatellite Diversity of the Agriculturally Important Alpine Grass <i>Poa alpina</i> in Relation to Land Use and Natural Environment

Katrin Rudmann-Maurer, Anne Weyand, Markus Fischer and Jürg Stöcklin

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 100, issue 6, pages 1249-1258
Published in print November 2007 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online September 2007 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcm203
Microsatellite Diversity of the Agriculturally Important Alpine Grass Poa alpina in Relation to Land Use and Natural Environment

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry

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Background and Aims

The Alpine Meadow Grass Poa alpina is common in subalpine and alpine natural sites and agriculturally used land, where it is an important fodder grass. Natural factors and human land use are supposed to have been shaping its genetic diversity for hundreds of years. The species comprises sexually and vegetatively reproducing plants. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of agricultural land use, environmental factors and the mode of reproduction on the distribution of its microsatellite diversity within and among populations and to analyse whether its genetic diversity is correlated with plant species diversity in grassland parcels.

Methods

Genetic diversity of P. alpina was assessed with five microsatellite markers for 569 plants originating from 20 natural sites and from 54 grassland parcels of different cultural tradition, land use and altitude in the Swiss Alps. Due to polyploidy and frequent aneuploidy of the species, data analyses were based on the presence of microsatellite bands.

Key Results

A low but significant differentiation was found in microsatellite bands among natural sites and agriculturally used parcels, while their microsatellite band diversity within populations did not differ. An increased differentiation was found in microsatellite bands with increasing geographic distance among parcels, and a differentiation among grazed and mown parcels, and among sexually and vegetatively reproducing populations. Band richness of sampled plants per village was higher for villages where parcels represented more different land-use types. Within populations, microsatellite band diversity was higher in grazed than in mown parcels.

Conclusions

The diversity of human land use in the Alps was associated with genetic diversity of P. alpina. Therefore, the ongoing socio-economically motivated land-use changes, which reduce the number of different land-use types, will affect the genetic diversity of P. alpina negatively.

Keywords: Agriculture; cultural tradition; genetic diversity; grassland; land use; microsatellites; natural environment; Poa alpina; rarefaction; Swiss Alps

Journal Article.  7122 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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