Juniperus excelsa s. str. (Greek juniper) in Crimea is a relic species on the limits of its range, and represents the Mediterranean flora in the Sub-Mediterranean part of the peninsula. Its origin and history in this area remains unresolved. We aimed to analyze phylogeny and potential demographic expansion of the juniper in the Crimea as well as to study its morphological differentiation. We analyzed plant material from 59 trees inhabiting eight populations. Genetic variation assessments were based on the four non-coding chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) fragments and the nuclear internal transcribed spacer region ITS1-5,8S-ITS2 (ITS). To examine the morphological differentiation, eight measured/counted traits of cones, seeds, and shoots were chosen and eight ratios were calculated. Morphological parameters were compared using ANOVA, Student’s t test, discrimination analysis and Kruskal-Wallis and U Mann-Whitney tests. Two cpDNA fragments were polymorphic and, in total, 10 cpDNA haplotypes were found. Haplotype diversity (Hd) ranged from 0.0 to 0.9. Based on both cpDNA and ITS sequences variation, phylogenetic analyses revealed a close relationship of the Crimean junipers to the individuals from other parts of the species range. In general, our molecular results confirmed the low level of genetic differentiation of J. excelsa individuals inhabiting different parts of the species range, likely resulting from a common ancestry. Only slight morphological differences were found between populations with different geographic location or habitat. The analyzes showed the distinctness of the populations from the southern part of the coast. Some unique morphological and molecular features of southern coastal populations imply that they are remnants of Late Pleistocene abundant forests. We suggest that the recent fragmentation of the Juniperus populations in the Crimean Peninsula could have arisen during the Atlantic period of the Holocene.
|Source||Folia Forestalia Polonica, Series A – Forestry|
|Type of article
||Juniperus excelsa s. str. in Crimea – differentiation and history inferred from genetic and morphological markers|
|Publisher||The Committee on Forestry Sciences and Wood Technology of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Forest Research Institute in Sekocin Stary|