Journal Article

Range expansion of a selfing polyploid plant despite widespread genetic uniformity

Nicole Voss, R. Lutz Eckstein and Walter Durka

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 110, issue 3, pages 585-593
Published in print August 2012 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online June 2012 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Range expansion of a selfing polyploid plant despite widespread genetic uniformity

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


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Background and Aims

Ongoing and previous range expansions have a strong influence on population genetic structure of plants. In turn, genetic variation in the new range may affect the population dynamics and the expansion process. The annual Ceratocapnos claviculata (Papaveraceae) has expanded its Atlantic European range in recent decades towards the north and east. Patterns of genetic diversity were investigated across the native range to assess current population structure and phylogeographical patterns. A test was then made as to whether genetic diversity is reduced in the neophytic range and an attempt was made to identify source regions of the expansion.


Samples were taken from 55 populations in the native and 34 populations in the neophytic range (Sweden, north-east Germany). Using amplified fragment length polymorphism markers an analysis was made of genetic variation and population structure (Bayesian statistical modelling) and population differentiation was quantified. Pollen/ovule ratio was analysed as a proxy for the breeding system.

Key Results

Genetic diversity at population level was very low (mean He = 0·004) and two multilocus genotypes dominated large parts of the new range. Population differentiation was strong (FST = 0·812). These results and a low pollen/ovule ratio are consistent with an autogamous breeding system. Genetic variation decreased from the native to the neophytic range. Within the native range, He decreased towards the north-east, whereas population size increased. According to the Bayesian cluster analysis, the putative source regions of the neophytic range are situated in north-west Germany and adjacent regions.


Ceratocapnos claviculata shows a cline of genetic variation due to postglacial recolonization from putative Pleistocene refugia in south-west Europe. Nevertheless, the species has expanded successfully during the past 40 years to southern Sweden and north-east Germany where it occurs as an opportunistic neophyte. Recent expansion was mainly human-mediated by single long-distance diaspore transport and was facilitated by habitat modification.

Keywords: AFLP; anthropogenic dispersal; autogamous; Ceratocapnos claviculata; founder effects; genetic differentiation; genetic diversity; global change; neophyte; postglacial colonization; range expansion; therophyte

Journal Article.  6300 words.  Illustrated.

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

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