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Protocols in ecological and environmental plant physiology

 

Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 59(3)

Molecular genetic variation in a widespread forest tree species Eucalyptus obliqua (Myrtaceae) on the island of Tasmania

Justin A. Bloomfield A , Paul Nevill B C , Brad M. Potts A , René E. Vaillancourt A and Dorothy A. Steane A D

A School of Plant Science and Cooperative Research Centre for Forestry, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 55, Hobart, Tas. 7001, Australia.
B School of Forest and Ecosystem Science and Cooperative Research Centre for Forestry, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic. 3010, Australia.
C Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, Kings Park and Botanic Gardens and School of Plant Biology, The University of Western Australia, 6009 WA, Australia.
D Corresponding author. Email: Dorothy.Steane@utas.edu.au

Australian Journal of Botany 59(3) 226-237 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/BT10315
Submitted: 26 November 2010  Accepted: 21 February 2011   Published: 9 May 2011


 
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Abstract

Eucalyptus obliqua L’Hér. is widespread across south-eastern Australia. On the island of Tasmania it has a more-or-less continuous distribution across its range and it dominates much of the wet sclerophyll forest managed for forestry purposes. To understand better the distribution of genetic variation in these native forests we examined nuclear microsatellite diversity in 432 mature individuals from 20 populations of E. obliqua across Tasmania, including populations from each end of three locally steep environmental gradients. In addition, chloroplast microsatellite loci were assessed in 297 individuals across 31 populations. Nuclear microsatellite diversity values in E. obliqua were high (average HE = 0.80) and inbreeding coefficients low (average F = 0.02) within these populations. The degree of differentiation between populations was very low (FST = 0.015). No significant microsatellite differentiation could be found across three locally steep environmental gradients, even though there is significant genetic differentiation in quantitative traits. This suggests that the observed quantitative variation is maintained by natural selection. Population differentiation based on chloroplast haplotypes was high (GST = 0.69) compared with that based on nuclear microsatellites, suggesting that pollen-mediated gene flow is >150 times the level of seed-mediated gene flow in this animal-pollinated species; hence, pollen is likely to be the main mode of gene flow countering selection along local environmental gradients. Implications of these results for silvicultural practices are discussed.



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