Journal Article

Biogeographic variation in genetic variability, apomixis expression and ploidy of St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) across its native and introduced range

Marta Puente Molins, José M. Corral, Olawale Mashood Aliyu, Marcus A. Koch, Anja Betzin, John L. Maron and Timothy F. Sharbel

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 113, issue 3, pages 417-427
Published in print February 2014 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online December 2013 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mct268
Biogeographic variation in genetic variability, apomixis expression and ploidy of St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) across its native and introduced range

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  • Ecology and Conservation
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Background and Aims

St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) is becoming an important model plant system for investigations into ecology, reproductive biology and pharmacology. This study investigates biogeographic variation for population genetic structure and reproduction in its ancestral (European) and introduced (North America) ranges.

Methods

Over 2000 individuals from 43 localities were analysed for ploidy, microsatellite variation (19 loci) and reproduction (flow cytometric seed screen). Most individuals were tetraploid (93 %), while lower frequencies of hexaploid (6 %), diploid (<1 %) and triploid (<1 %) individuals were also identified.

Key Results

A flow cytometric analysis of 24 single seeds per individual, and five individuals per population demonstrated opposite patterns between ploidy types, with tetraploids producing more apomictic (73 %) than sexual (24 %) seed, while hexaploids produced more sexual (73 %) than apomictic (23 %) seed. As hexaploids are derived from tetraploids, these data imply that gene dosage, in addition to the effects of hybridization, influences the switch from apomictic to sexual reproduction. No significant differences in seed production were found between Europe and North America. An analysis of population structure based upon microsatellite profiling demonstrated three major genetic clusters in Europe, whose distribution was reflective of Pleistocene glaciation (e.g. refugia) and post-glacial recolonization of Europe.

Conclusions

The presence of pure and mixed populations representing all three genetic clusters in North America demonstrates that H. perforatum was introduced multiple times onto the continent, followed by gene flow between the different gene pools. Taken together, the data presented here suggest that plasticity in reproduction has no influence on the invasive potential of H. perforatum.

Keywords: Hypericum perforatum; St John's wort; apomixis; hybridization; invasiveness; polyploidy

Journal Article.  7461 words.  Illustrated.

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

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