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Genetic drift drives evolution in the bird‐pollinated, terrestrial island endemic Grevillea georgeana (Proteaceae)

Nistelberger, Heidi M., Byrne, Margaret, Coates, David, Roberts, J. Dale
Botanical journal of the Linnean Society 2015 v.178 no.1 pp. 155-168
Grevillea, evolution, genetic drift, genetic markers, genetic variation, genome, haplotypes, intergenic DNA, microsatellite repeats, plastid DNA, pollen, pollen flow, seed dispersal, Western Australia
Plant species distributed across terrestrial islands can show significant genetic divergence among populations if seed and pollen dispersal are restricted. We assessed the genetic connectivity between populations of Grevillea georgeana, restricted to seven disjunct inselbergs in semi‐arid Western Australia. The phylogeographical pattern and population genetics of populations were determined using sequence data from two plastid DNA intergenic spacers and ten nuclear microsatellite loci. The plastid DNA markers indicated high genetic differentiation among the majority of populations. Haplotypes were restricted to individual inselbergs, with the exception of two that were shared among three isolated populations that formed part of an elongated greenstone belt and that may be connected via inaccessible populations of G. georgeana. There was also strong differentiation within some of the populations, suggesting long‐term isolation and persistence of G. georgeana on these terrestrial islands. Overall, the genetic patterns suggest limited seed dispersal, with differentiation in the plastid DNA genome being driven by genetic drift. In contrast, pollen movement, although generally restricted, may occur between neighbouring populations, resulting in a pattern of isolation by distance in the nuclear markers. This potential for limited or no seed dispersal, but connectivity via pollen flow, should be considered, given that many of the inselbergs are under consideration for resource development. © 2015 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2015, 178, 155–168.