Fine-scale genetic structure of life history stages in the food-deceptive orchid Orchis purpurea

Hans Jacquemyn, Rein Brys, Katrien Vandepitte, Olivier Honnay, Isabel Roldan-Ruiz

    Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


    In natural plant populations, fine-scale spatial genetic structure can result from limited gene flow, selection pressures or historical events, but the role of each factor is in general hard to discern. One way to investigate the origination of spatial genetic structure within a plant population consists of comparing spatial genetic structure among different life history stages. In this study, spatial genetic structure of the food-deceptive orchid Orchis purpurea was determined across life history stages in two populations that were regenerating after many years of population decline. Based on demographic analyses (2001-2004), we distinguished between recruits and adult plants. For both sites, there was no difference in the proportion of polymorphic loci and expected heterozygosity between life history stages. However, spatial autocorrelation analyses showed that spatial genetic structure increased in magnitude with life history stage. Weak or no spatial genetic structure was observed for recruits, whereas adult plants showed a pattern that is consistent with that found in other species with a predominantly outcrossing mating system. The observed differences between seedlings and adults are probably a consequence of changes in management of the two study sites and associated demographic changes in both populations. Our results illustrate that recurrent population crashes and recovery may strongly affect genetic diversity and fine-scale spatial genetic structure of plant populations.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalMolecular Ecology
    Issue number10
    Pages (from-to)2801-2808
    Number of pages8
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


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