Journal Article

How do population genetic parameters affect germination of the heterocarpic species <i>Atriplex tatarica</i> (Amaranthaceae)?

Jana Kochánková and Bohumil Mandák

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 103, issue 8, pages 1303-1313
Published in print June 2009 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online April 2009 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcp073
How do population genetic parameters affect germination of the heterocarpic species Atriplex tatarica (Amaranthaceae)?

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

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Background and Aims

The heterocarpic species Atriplex tatarica produces two types of seeds. In this study, how basic population genetic parameters correlate with seed germinability under various experimental conditions was tested.

Methods

Population genetic diversity was ascertained in eight populations of A. tatarica by assessing patterns of variation at nine allozyme loci. Germinability of both seed types from all sampled populations was determined by a common laboratory experiment under different salinity levels. Basic population genetic parameters, i.e. percentage of polymorphic loci, average number of alleles per locus and observed heterozygosity were correlated with observed population germination characteristics.

Key Results

Atriplex tatarica possesses a remarkable heterocarpy, i.e. one type of seed is non-dormant and the other shows different dormancy levels in relation to experimental conditions. Significant negative correlations have been detected between germination of both seed types and the coefficient of inbreeding, and a significant negative correlation between germination of dormant seeds and other population genetic parameters, i.e. percentage of polymorphic loci and average number of alleles per polymorphic locus. Moreover, populations from the region characterized by a shorter growing season manifested higher germinability, i.e. had lower dormancy, than those from the lower-latitude one.

Conclusions

In general, germination of non-dormant seeds is probably not under strong genetic control. Hence, they germinate as soon as conditions are favourable, thus ensuring survival in the short term, but populations risk local extinction if conditions become adverse (i.e. a high-risk strategy). In contrast, germination of the dormant type of seeds is under stronger genetic control and is significantly correlated with basic population genetic parameters. These seeds ensure long-term reproduction and survival in the field by protracted germination, albeit in low quantities (i.e. A. tatarica also adopts a low-risk strategy).

Keywords: Amaranthaceae; Atriplex; inbreeding depression; population genetics; seed dimorphism

Journal Article.  6399 words.  Illustrated.

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

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