Journal Article

Nuclear DNA Microsatellites Reveal Genetic Variation but a Lack of Phylogeographical Structure in an Endangered Species, <i>Fraxinus mandshurica</i>, Across North-east China

Li-Jiang Hu, Kentaro Uchiyama, Hai-Long Shen, Yoko Saito, Yoshiaki Tsuda and Yuji Ide

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 102, issue 2, pages 195-205
Published in print August 2008 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online May 2008 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Nuclear DNA Microsatellites Reveal Genetic Variation but a Lack of Phylogeographical Structure in an Endangered Species, Fraxinus mandshurica, Across North-east China

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


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Background and Aims

The widely accepted paradigm that the modern genetic structure of plant species in the northern hemisphere has been largely determined by recolonization from refugia after the last glacial maximum fails to explain the presence of cold-tolerant species at intermediate latitudes. Another generally accepted paradigm is that mountain ridges act as important barriers causing genetic isolation of species, but this too has been challenged in recent studies. The aims of the work reported here were to determine the genetic diversity and distribution patterns of extant natural populations of an endangered cool temperate species, Faxinus mandshurica, and to examine whether these two paradigms are appropriate when applied to this species over a wide geographical scale.


1435 adult individuals were sampled from 30 natural populations across the main and central range of the species, covering major mountain ranges across North-east China (NEC). Genetic variation was estimated based on nine polymorphic nuclear microsatellite loci. Phylogeographical analyses were employed using various approaches, including Bayesian clustering, spatial analysis of molecular variance, Monmonier's algorithm, neighbor-joining trees, principal co-ordinate analysis and isolation by distance.

Key Results

Genetic diversity within populations was relatively high, and no significant recent bottlenecks were detected in any of the populations. A significant negative correlation between intra-population genetic diversity and latitude was identified. In contrast, genetic differentiation among all the populations examined was extremely low and no clear geographic genetic structure was identified, with the exception of one distinct population.


The modern genetic structure in this species can be explained by extensive gene flow, an absence of mountains acting as barriers, and the presence of a wide refuge across NEC rather than multiple small refugia. Intra-population genetic variation along latitudes is probably associated with the systematically northward shifts of forest biomes in eastern China during the mid-Holocene. To determine important genetic patterns and identify resources for conservation, however, it will be necessary to examine differentially inherited genetic markers exposed to selection pressures (e.g. chloroplast DNA) and to investigate different generations.

Keywords: Fraxinus mandshurica; nuclear microsatellites; latitude variation; historical migration; fossil pollen; spatial genetic structure; genetic barriers

Journal Article.  6461 words.  Illustrated.

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

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