Genetic diversity of the endangered Chinese endemic herb Primulina tabacum (Gesneriaceae) revealed by amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP)

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Primulina tabacum Hance, is a critically endangered perennial endemic to limestone area in South China. Genetic variability within and among four extant populations of this species was assessed using AFLP markers. We expected a low genetic diversity level of this narrowly distributed species, but our results revealed that a high level of genetic diversity remains, both at population level (55.5% of markers polymorphic, HE = 0.220, IS = 0.321), and at species level (P = 85.6% of markers polymorphic, HE = 0.339, IS = 0.495), probably resulting from its refugial history and/or breeding system. High levels of genetic differentiation among populations was apparent based on Nei's genetic diversity analysis (Gst=0.350). The restricted gene flow between populations is a potential reason for the high genetic differentiation. The population genetic diversity of P. tabacum revealed here has clear implications for conservation and management. To maintain present levels of genetic diversity, in situ conservation of all populations is necessary.

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