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Low genetic diversity and high levels of inbreeding in the Sinai primrose (Primula boveana), a species on the brink of extinction


Jiménez, Ares; Mansour, Hassan; Keller, Barbara; Conti, Elena (2014). Low genetic diversity and high levels of inbreeding in the Sinai primrose (Primula boveana), a species on the brink of extinction. Plant Systematics and Evolution, 300(5):1199-1208.

Abstract

The Sinai primrose (Primula boveana) is one of the most endangered plant species worldwide, with less than 200 wild individuals surviving in the Sinai mountains of Egypt. There has been a decline in both the number and size of its populations in recent times, possibly caused by threats that include habitat aridification and the impact of human activities. Studying the standing genetic variation and extent of inbreeding of P. boveana is necessary for the design of appropriate conservation strategies for this species. In the present work, we used a set of seven, recently developed, polymorphic microsatellite markers to characterize the genetic variation and levels of inbreeding of the extant populations of P. boveana. We found low levels of genetic variation (H T = 0.470), high differentiation between populations (F ST = 0.737, R ST = 0.935), and very elevated levels of inbreeding (F = 0.862) due to recurrent selfing. These results may be the reflection of low levels of genetic variation and high levels of inbreeding over a long evolutionary period, suggesting that the current genetic pool of the species may enable P. boveana to persist in a habitat where water availability and pollinator services are restricted. Nevertheless, in sight of its rapidly dwindling abundance, it seems prudent to adopt swift measures, including habitat restoration and ex-situ conservation, to prevent the impending extinction of this emblematic species.

Abstract

The Sinai primrose (Primula boveana) is one of the most endangered plant species worldwide, with less than 200 wild individuals surviving in the Sinai mountains of Egypt. There has been a decline in both the number and size of its populations in recent times, possibly caused by threats that include habitat aridification and the impact of human activities. Studying the standing genetic variation and extent of inbreeding of P. boveana is necessary for the design of appropriate conservation strategies for this species. In the present work, we used a set of seven, recently developed, polymorphic microsatellite markers to characterize the genetic variation and levels of inbreeding of the extant populations of P. boveana. We found low levels of genetic variation (H T = 0.470), high differentiation between populations (F ST = 0.737, R ST = 0.935), and very elevated levels of inbreeding (F = 0.862) due to recurrent selfing. These results may be the reflection of low levels of genetic variation and high levels of inbreeding over a long evolutionary period, suggesting that the current genetic pool of the species may enable P. boveana to persist in a habitat where water availability and pollinator services are restricted. Nevertheless, in sight of its rapidly dwindling abundance, it seems prudent to adopt swift measures, including habitat restoration and ex-situ conservation, to prevent the impending extinction of this emblematic species.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:16 Dec 2013 13:39
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:15
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0378-2697
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00606-013-0955-y

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