Background: Pinus massoniana, an ecologically and economically important conifer, is widespread across central and southern mainland China and Taiwan. In this study, we tested the central-marginal paradigm that predicts that the marginal populations tend to be less polymorphic than the central ones in their genetic composition, and examined a founders' effect in the island population. Methodology/Principal Findings: We examined the phylogeography and population structuring of the P. massoniana based on nucleotide sequences of cpDNA atpB-rbcL intergenic spacer, intron regions of the AdhC2 locus, and microsatellite fingerprints. SAMOVA analysis of nucleotide sequences indicated that most genetic variants resided among geographical regions. High levels of genetic diversity in the marginal populations in the south region, a pattern seemingly contradicting the central-marginal paradigm, and the fixation of private haplotypes in most populations indicate that multiple refugia may have existed over the glacial maxima. STRUCTURE analyses on microsatellites revealed that genetic structure of mainland populations was mediated with recent genetic exchanges mostly via pollen flow, and that the genetic composition in east region was intermixed between south and west regions, a pattern likely shaped by gene introgression and maintenance of ancestral polymorphisms. As expected, the small island population in Taiwan was genetically differentiated from mainland populations. Conclusions/Significance: The marginal populations in south region possessed divergent gene pools, suggesting that the past glaciations might have low impacts on these populations at low latitudes. Estimates of ancestral population sizes interestingly reflect a recent expansion in mainland from a rather smaller population, a pattern that seemingly agrees with the pollen record.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)