High population differentiation and unusual haplotype structure in a shade-intolerant pioneer tree species, Zanthoxylum ailanthoides (Rutaceae) revealed by analysis of DNA polymorphism at four nuclear loci.

Research paper by K K Kamiya, E E Moritsuka, T T Yoshida, T T Yahara, H H Tachida

Indexed on: 24 Apr '08Published on: 24 Apr '08Published in: Molecular Ecology


Differences in demographic history, life-history traits, and breeding systems affect nucleotide variation patterns. It is expected that shade-intolerant pioneer tree species have different patterns of genetic polymorphism and population structure than climax species. We studied patterns of nucleotide polymorphism at four putative starch pathway loci (agpSA, agpSB, agpL, and GBSSI) in Zanthoxylum ailanthoides, a shade-intolerant pioneer tree species that occupies forest gaps in warm-temperate forests of East Asia. Genetic diversity was lower within each population than among populations, and differentiation among populations was high across the loci (F(ST) = 0.32-0.64), as expected from the insect-pollinated breeding system and the metapopulation structure of this pioneer species. Numbers of haplotypes were smaller than those expected from the observed numbers of segregating sites. Single haplotypes accounted for more than 47% of all the sampled genes at the respective loci. These variation patterns were incompatible with neutral predictions for populations of a finite island model. Complex population dynamics, such as bottleneck and/or admixture, in the history of this pioneer tree species might have resulted in the observed patterns of genetic variation and population structure, which are different from those of climax wind-pollinated tree species, such as conifers. In contrast to the other loci investigated in this study, agpL showed nearly no variation in Z. ailanthoides (one singleton only), but there was some extent of variation in a closely related species, Zanthoxylum schinifolium. This suggests possibly a recent selective sweep at or near the locus in Z. ailanthoides.