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Protocols in ecological and environmental plant physiology


Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 60(1)

Significant population genetic structure detected for a new and highly restricted species of Atriplex (Chenopodiaceae) from Western Australia, and implications for conservation management

Laurence J. Clarke A, Duncan I. Jardine A, Margaret Byrne B, Kelly Shepherd B and Andrew J. Lowe A C D

A Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity (ACEBB), and School of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Adelaide, North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.
B Science Division, Department of Environment and Conservation, Locked Bag 104, Bentley Delivery Centre, Perth, WA 6983, Australia.
C State Herbarium of South Australia, Science Resource Centre, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Hackney Road, SA 5005, Australia.
D Corresponding author. Email: andrew.lowe@adelaide.edu.au

Australian Journal of Botany 60(1) 32-41 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/BT11223
Submitted: 31 August 2011  Accepted: 6 December 2011   Published: 22 February 2012

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Atriplex sp. Yeelirrie Station (L. Trotter & A. Douglas LCH 25025) is a highly restricted, potentially new species of saltbush, known from only two sites ~30 km apart in central Western Australia. Knowledge of genetic structure within the species is required to inform conservation strategies as both populations occur within a palaeovalley that contains significant near-surface uranium mineralisation. We investigate the structure of genetic variation within populations and subpopulations of this taxon using nuclear microsatellites. Internal transcribed spacer sequence data places this new taxon within a clade of polyploid Atriplex species, and the maximum number of alleles per locus suggests it is hexaploid. The two populations possessed similar levels of genetic diversity, but exhibited a surprising level of genetic differentiation given their proximity. Significant isolation by distance over scales of less than 5 km suggests dispersal is highly restricted. In addition, the proportion of variation between the populations (12%) is similar to that among A. nummularia populations sampled at a continent-wide scale (several thousand kilometres), and only marginally less than that between distinct A. nummularia subspecies. Additional work is required to further clarify the exact taxonomic status of the two populations. We propose management recommendations for this potentially new species in light of its highly structured genetic variation.


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