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Genetical Population Structure in Plants: Gene Flow between Diploid Sexual and Triploid Asexual Dandelions (Taraxacum Section Ruderalia)

Steph B. J. Menken, Eric Smit and Hans (J.) C. M. Den Nijs
Evolution
Vol. 49, No. 6 (Dec., 1995), pp. 1108-1118
DOI: 10.2307/2410435
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2410435
Page Count: 11
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Genetical Population Structure in Plants: Gene Flow between Diploid Sexual and Triploid Asexual Dandelions (Taraxacum Section Ruderalia)
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Abstract

Levels and distribution of genetic variation were studied in central and western European populations of Taraxacum section Ruderalia containing differing mixtures of sexual diploid and asexual triploid plants. All sexual populations were panmictic with their variation partitioned mainly among populations. Genotypic diversity in triploid samples was very high with few clones widespread and many clones restricted to one or a few populations. Extensive amounts of gene (pollen) flow between the diploid and triploid components of a population were inferred from the following data: (1) the two ploidy levels share all major allozyme polymorphisms; (2) the intrapopulational homogeneity in genic variation between diploids and triploids contrasts strongly with the geographic differentiation at each ploidy level separately; (3) population-unique alleles simultaneously occur at the two ploidy levels; (4) not only sexuals but also asexuals generally simulate Hardy-Weinberg expectations. Most likely, intrapopulational gene exchange occurs bidirectionally by mechanisms such as reductional pollen meiosis in apomictic plants, facultative apomixis, and formation of unreduced gametes in sexuals. Thus, diploid and triploid Taraxacum section Ruderalia are less genetically isolated than has previously been supposed and probably form a cohesive evolutionary unit with the level at which gene pools are shared differing by population.

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