Australian Journal of Botany Australian Journal of Botany Society
Southern hemisphere botanical ecosystems

Genetic Diversity and Population Genetic Structure in the Rare Chittering Grass Wattle, Acacia anomala Court

DJ Coates

Australian Journal of Botany 36(3) 273 - 286
Published: 1988


There are 10 known populations of Acacia anomala occurring in two small disjunct groups some 30 km apart. The Chittering populations reproduce sexually whereas the Kalamunda populations appear to reproduce almost exclusively by vegetative multiplication. The level and distribution of genetic variation were studied at 15 allozyme loci. Two loci were monomorphic in all populations. In the Chittering populations the mean number of alleles per locus was 2.0 and the expected panmictic heterozygosity (genetic diversity) 0.209. In the Kalamunda populations the mean number of alleles per locus was 1.15 and the expected panmictic heterozygosity 0.079, although the observed heterozygosity of 0.150 was only marginally less than the Chittering populations (0.177). These data support the contention that the Chittering populations are primarily outcrossing whereas the Kalamunda populations are clonal, with each population consisting of individuals with identical and, in three of the four populations, heterozygous, multilocus genotypes.

The level of genetic diversity within the Chittering populations is high for plants in general even though most populations are relatively smsll and isolated. It is proposed that either the length of time these populations have been reduced in size and isolated is insufficient for genetic diversity to be reduced or the genetic system of this species is adapted to small population conditions. Strategies for the adequate conservation of the genetic resources of Acacia anomala are discussed.

© CSIRO 1988

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