Date of this Version
Rouse, Saleh, Seck, Keeler, Travers, Hulbert & Garrett in PLoS One (April 2011) 6(4): e17641.
Background: Environmental variables such as moisture availability are often important in determining species prevalence and intraspecific diversity. The population genetic structure of dominant plant species in response to a cline of these variables has rarely been addressed. We evaluated the spatial genetic structure and diversity of Andropogon gerardii populations across the U.S. Great Plains precipitation gradient, ranging from approximately 48 cm/year to 105 cm/year.
Methodology/Principal Findings: Genomic diversity was evaluated with AFLP markers and diversity of a disease resistance gene homolog was evaluated by PCR-amplification and digestion with restriction enzymes. We determined the degree of spatial genetic structure using Mantel tests. Genomic and resistance gene homolog diversity were evaluated across prairies using Shannon’s index and by averaging haplotype dissimilarity. Trends in diversity across prairies were determined using linear regression of diversity on average precipitation for each prairie. We identified significant spatial genetic structure, with genomic similarity decreasing as a function of distance between samples. However, our data indicated that genomewide diversity did not vary consistently across the precipitation gradient. In contrast, we found that disease resistance gene homolog diversity was positively correlated with precipitation.
Significance: Prairie remnants differ in the genetic resources they maintain. Selection and evolution in this disease resistance homolog is environmentally dependent. Overall, we found that, though this environmental gradient may not predict genomic diversity, individual traits such as disease resistance genes may vary significantly.