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Population Structure, Genetic Diversity, and Gene Introgression of Two Closely Related Walnuts (<i>Juglans regia</i> and <i>J. sigillata</i>) in Southwestern China Revealed by EST-SSR Markers

Yuan, Xiao-Ying, Sun, Yi-Wei, Bai, Xu-Rong, Dang, Meng, Feng, Xiao-Jia, Zulfiqar, Saman, Zhao, Peng
Forests 2018 v.9 no.10
Juglans regia, Juglans sigillata, ecotypes, expressed sequence tags, genetic variation, geostatistics, introgression, medicinal properties, microsatellite repeats, population genetics, population structure, sympatry, walnuts, wood, China
The common walnut (Juglans regia L.) and iron walnut (J. sigillata Dode) are well-known economically important species cultivated for their edible nuts, high-quality wood, and medicinal properties and display a sympatric distribution in southwestern China. However, detailed research on the genetic diversity and introgression of these two closely related walnut species, especially in southwestern China, are lacking. In this study, we analyzed a total of 506 individuals from 28 populations of J. regia and J. sigillata using 25 EST-SSR markers to determine if their gene introgression was related to sympatric distribution. In addition, we compared the genetic diversity estimates between them. Our results indicated that all J. regia populations possess slightly higher genetic diversity than J. sigillata populations. The Geostatistical IDW technique (H<inf>O</inf>, PPL, N<inf>A</inf> and PrA) revealed that northern Yunnan and Guizhou provinces had high genetic diversity for J. regia while the northwestern Yunnan province had high genetic diversity for J. sigillata. AMOVA analysis revealed that significant genetic variation was mainly distributed within population as 73% in J. regia and 76% in J. sigillata. The genetic differentiation (F<inf>ST</inf>) was 0.307 between the two walnut species (p < 0.0001), which was higher than F<inf>ST</inf> values within populations (J. regia F<inf>ST</inf> = 0.265 and J. sigillata F<inf>ST</inf> = 0.236). However, the STRUCTURE analysis of the J. regia and J. sigillata populations revealed two genetic clusters in which gene introgression exists, therefore, the boundary of separation between these two walnut species is not clear. Moreover, these results were validated by NJ and UPGMA analysis with additional conformation from the PCoA. Based on the SSR data, our results indicate that J. sigillata is an ecotype of J. regia. Taken together, these results reveal novel information on population genetics and provide specific geographical regions containing high genetic diversity of the Juglans species sampled, which will assist in future conservation management.