Population structure and genetic diversity in the nannandrous moss Homalothecium lutescens: does the dwarf male system facilitate gene flow?

Rosengren F, Hansson B, Cronberg N

BMC Evol. Biol. 15 (-) 270 [2015-12-03; online 2015-12-03]

Nannandry is a sexual system where males ("dwarf males") are much smaller than the conspecific females. Dwarf males occur in a wide range of unrelated organisms but the evolutionary advantages of this condition are poorly understood. The dwarf male sexual system results in differences in the mode of dispersal and establishment as well as the life span between males and females. Such differences must have profound effects on the population dynamics and genetic structures. We have studied four populations of the nannandrous moss Homalothecium lutescens in southern Sweden. We genotyped dwarf males and female shoots with the aim of describing the genetic diversity and structure of the populations. Dwarf males were most related to their host shoot, then their colony (within 0.5 m(2)) and then the rest of the population, which suggests restricted spore dispersal. However, a few dwarf males in each population appeared to originate from other colonies and sometimes even other populations. Genetic diversity of dwarf males was generally high but showed no tendency to be consistently higher or lower than female genetic diversity within the four populations. Although most dwarf males have local origin, sporadic dispersal events occur. The ability of the dwarf males to establish in high numbers in mature colonies facilitates gene flow between populations as well as increases the potential to accumulate genetic diversity within populations.

NGI Uppsala (SNP&SEQ Technology Platform) [Service]

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PubMed 26634921

DOI 10.1186/s12862-015-0545-4

Crossref 10.1186/s12862-015-0545-4

Dryad 10.5061/dryad.1860S

10.1186/s12862-015-0545-4

pmc PMC4669626