Journal Article

Clear Genetic Structure of <i>Pinus kwangtungensis</i> (Pinaceae) Revealed by a Plastid DNA Fragment with a Novel Minisatellite

Shuang Tian, Lai-Chun Luo, Song Ge and Zhi-Yong Zhang

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 102, issue 1, pages 69-78
Published in print July 2008 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online May 2008 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Clear Genetic Structure of Pinus kwangtungensis (Pinaceae) Revealed by a Plastid DNA Fragment with a Novel Minisatellite

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


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Background and Aims

Pinus kwangtungensis is a five-needled pine, inhabiting isolated mountain tops, cliffs or slopes in the montane areas of southern China and northern Vietnam. Global warming and long-term deforestation in southern China threaten its existence and genetic integrity, and this species is listed as vulnerable in the China Species Red List. However, the level and distribution of genetic diversity in this vulnerable species are completely unknown. In this paper, the genetic diversity and structure are examined using paternally inherited plastid markers to shed light on its evolutionary history and to provide a genetic perspective for its conservation.


By means of direct sequencing, a new polymorphic fragment containing a minisatellite site was identified within the plastid genome of P. kwangtungensis. Using the minisatellite site along with five SNPs (one indel and four substitutions) within the same fragment, the population genetic structure and pollen flow were analysed in 17 populations of P. kwangtungensis in southern China.

Key Results

Analysis of 227 individuals from 17 populations revealed ten haplotypes at the minisatellite site. The haplotype diversity at species level was relatively high (0·629). Genetic diversity of each population ranged from 0 to 0·779, and the western populations harboured more genetic variation than the eastern and Hainan populations, although the former appeared to have experienced a bottleneck in recent history. Population subdivision based on this site was high (FST = 0·540 under IAM; RST = 0·677 under SMM). Three major clusters (eastern, western and Hainan) were identified based on a neighbor-joining dendrogram generated from genetic distances among the populations. The genetic structures inferred from all the polymorphic sites and the SNPs were in concordance with that from the minisatellite site.


The results suggest that there are at least three refugia for P. kwangtungensis and that populations in these refugia should be treated as separate evolutionarily significant units or conservation units. The high diversities in the western populations suggest that these were much larger in the past (e.g. glacial stages) and that the shrinking population size might have been caused by recent events (e.g. deforestation, global warming, etc.). The western populations should be given priority for conservation due to their higher genetic diversity and limited population sizes. It is concluded that the newly found minisatellite may serve as a novel and applicable molecular marker for unravelling evolutionary processes in P. kwangtungensis.

Keywords: Pinus kwangtungensis; minisatellite; population genetics; conservation

Journal Article.  5746 words.  Illustrated.

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

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