GENETIC DIVERSITY OF FESTUCA PRATENSIS HUDS. AND LOLIUM MULTIFLORUM LAM. ECOTYPE POPULATIONS IN RELATION TO SPECIES DIVERSITY AND GRASSLAND TYPE, pp. 333-345
Authors: Madlaina Peter-Schmid, Roland Kölliker and Beat Boller, Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon, Research Station ART, Reckenholzstrasse, Zürich, Switzerland)
Abstract: Genetic diversity and species diversity are both crucial for ecosystem stability. Moreover, genetic diversity within a population is fundamental for broadening gene pools in breeding programmes and for food security. For the efficient conservation of species richness as well as of genetic resources in permanent grassland (in-situ), relationships between genetic diversity within target species and species diversity at their original habitats should be considered. In order to identify valuable grassland types for targeted in-situ conservation, two important forage grasses, Festuca pratensis Huds. and Lolium multiflorum Lam. have been chosen as model species. Genetic diversity of 12 ecotype populations of F. pratensis and L. multiflorum was assessed by means of 22 and 24 SSR markers, respectively. Species composition and abundance were determined at their collection sites. Analysis of molecular variance revealed low and nonsignificant differences among the grassland types of both species. Genetic diversity within F. pratensis ecotype populations (expected heterozygosity HE) was negatively correlated with species diversity (mainly Shannon index and species evenness) at their collection sites. For L. multiflorum no association was found. Between the observed classes of grassland types, differences in genetic diversity within F. pratensis populations were not significant, but intermediately managed Heracleum-Dactylis grassland habitats held ecotype populations with significantly more rare alleles than extensively managed Mesobromion and Festuco Agrostion habitats. However, species diversity indicated by the Shannon index was significantly lower in Heracleum-Dactylis than in Mesobromion grassland habitats. These results indicate a possible conflict of the aims to maintain species-rich grassland types on the one hand, and to conserve ecotype populations of target species with a high genetic diversity and a high number of rare alleles on the other hand. This conflict should be resolved by including the aim of conserving genetic diversity of grassland species in national or international programmes of biodiversity management.
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