Journal Article

Extremely low genotypic diversity and sexual reproduction in isolated populations of the self-incompatible lily-of-the-valley (<i>Convallaria majalis</i>) and the role of the local forest environment

Katrien Vandepitte, Isabel Roldán-Ruiz, Hans Jacquemyn and Olivier Honnay

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 105, issue 5, pages 769-776
Published in print May 2010 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online March 2010 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcq042
Extremely low genotypic diversity and sexual reproduction in isolated populations of the self-incompatible lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis) and the role of the local forest environment

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Background and Aims

Clonal growth is a common phenomenon in plants and allows them to persist when sexual life-cycle completion is impeded. Very low levels of recruitment from seed will ultimately result in low levels of genotypic diversity. The situation can be expected to be exacerbated in spatially isolated populations of obligated allogamous species, as low genotypic diversities will result in low availability of compatible genotypes and low reproductive success. Populations of the self-incompatible forest herb lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis) were studied with the aim of inferring the relative importance of sexual and asexual recruitment. Then the aim was to establish a relationship between genotypic diversity, sexual reproduction and the local forest environment.

Methods

Highly polymorphic microsatellite markers were used to investigate clonal diversities and population genetic structure of 20 populations of C. majalis in central Belgium.

Key Results

Most of the populations studied consisted of a single genotype and linkage disequilibrium within populations was high, manifesting clonal growth as the main mode of reproduction. A population consisting of multiple genotypes mainly occurred in locations with a thin litter layer and high soil phosphorus levels, suggesting environment-mediated sporadic recruitment from seed. Highly significant genetic differentiation indicated that populations are reproductively isolated. In agreement with the self-incompatibility of C. majalis, monoclonal populations showed very low or even absent fruit set.

Conclusions

Lack of sexual recruitment in spatially isolated C. majalis populations has resulted in almost monoclonal populations with reduced or absent sexual reproduction, potentially constraining their long-term persistence. The local forest environment may play an important role in mediating sexual recruitment in clonal forest plant species.

Keywords: Convallaria majalis; clonal; genotypic diversity; population genetics; remnant populations; SSR; forest herb; rhizomatous; self-incompatible; reproductive success

Journal Article.  5285 words.  Illustrated.

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

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