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Divergence between phenotypic and genetic variation within populations of a common herb across Europe
2014 (English)In: Ecosphere, ISSN 2150-8925, Vol. 5, no 5, 56- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Analyzing the pattern and causes of phenotypic and genetic variation within and among populations might help to understand life history variability in plants, and to predict their responses to changing environmental conditions. Here we compare phenotypic variation and genetic diversity of the widespread herb Plantago coronopus across Europe, and evaluate their relationship with environmental and geographical factors. Genetic diversity was estimated in 18 populations from molecular markers with AFLP. Phenotypic variation was measured in a subset of 11 populations on six life history traits (plant size, plant growth, fecundity, seed mass, mucilage production and ratio between two functionally different seed morphs). To account for ecological and geographical correlates, we estimated variability in local temperature, precipitation and intraspecific competition, and accounted for the central vs. peripheral position of populations. Phenotypic variation and genetic diversity were not significantly correlated within populations throughout the species' range. Phenotypic variation was positively linked to precipitation variability, whereas genetic diversity was correlated with the position of populations, suggesting that both types of variation are shaped by different processes. Precipitation seems to have acted as a selective agent for variation within populations in most life history traits, whereas the species' post-glacial demographic history has likely reduced genetic diversity in northern peripheral populations with respect to central ones. The positive association between precipitation variability and phenotypic variation also suggests that plant populations may have higher adaptive potential in ecologically variable rather than stable environments. Our study offers an additional criterion when predicting the future performance of species under environmental changes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 5, no 5, 56- p.
Keyword [en]
adaptive variation, environmental fluctuations, European Atlantic coast, evolutionary potential, genotype, latitudinal gradient, phenotype, Plantago coronopus, rainfall, range margin, widespread short-lived perennial
National Category
Natural Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-228557DOI: 10.1890/ES13-00291.1ISI: 000337164100007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-228557DiVA: diva2:734443
Available from: 2014-07-17 Created: 2014-07-16 Last updated: 2014-07-17Bibliographically approved

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Villellas, Jesus
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