Main content area

Molecular markers reveal a strong genetic differentiation between two European relic tree species: Zelkova abelicea (Lam.) Boissier and Z. sicula Di Pasquale, Garfì & Quézel (Ulmaceae)

Fineschi, S., Anzidei, M., Cafasso, D., Cozzolino, S., Garfì, G., Pastorelli, R., Salvini, D., Taurchini, D., Vendramin, G.G.
Conservation genetics 2002 v.3 no.2 pp. 145-153
Zelkova, chloroplasts, genetic markers, genetic variation, glaciation, haplotypes, internal transcribed spacers, microsatellite repeats, polymerase chain reaction, population, restriction fragment length polymorphism, trees, Crete, Italy, Sicily
Chloroplast (trnL) and ribosomal (ITS2)sequences and chloroplast DNA (PCR-RFLP andSSR) markers were analysed in two relicUlmaceae tree species: Zelkova abelicea,from Crete, and Z. sicula, from Sicily.The analysis of the plastidial trnLintron and of ITS2 ribosomal sequences revealedtheir divergence from the related speciesZ. carpinifolia, widespread in the Caucasianregion; one base substitution in the trnLintron was detected between the twoMediterranean species, thus suggesting theirrecent separation. Molecular markers(plastidial PCR-RFLP and SSR) showed an evidentgenetic differentiation between Z. siculaand Z. abelicea, the two species beingcharacterised by different haplotypes. Nowithin population variation was detected usingdifferent chloroplast markers inZ. abelicea and Z. sicula. Paleobotanicaldata proved that the genus Zelkova wasabundant and widespread in central Italy untilit became extinct in the continental part ofEurope during last glaciation events andsurvived only in two Mediterranean islands. Thesegregation of the two Mediterranean relicspecies might have occurred as a consequence ofthe strong reduction of their distribution andthe following geographic isolation. Geneticdrift may have determined the drastic reductionof within stand diversity as observed in othersmall, peripheral and geographically isolatedplant populations. The priorities forconservation programs are discussed in thelight of the different genetic resourcesrepresented by the two taxa.