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Gene flow, historical population dynamics and genetic diversity within French Guianan populations of a rainforest tree species, Vouacapoua americana

Dutech C., Joly H., Jarne P.. 2004. Heredity, 92 (2) : p. 69-77.

DOI: 10.1038/sj.hdy.6800384

Both gene flow and historical events influence the genetic diversity of natural populations. One way to understand their respective impact is to analyze population genetic structure at large spatial scales. We studied the distribution of genetic diversity of 17 populations of Vouacapoua americana (Caesalpiniaceae) in French Guiana, using nine microsatellite loci. Low genetic diversity was observed within populations, with a mean allelic richness and gene diversity of 4.1 and 0.506, respectively, which could be due to low effective population size and/or past bottlenecks. Using the regression between Fst/(1-Fst), estimated between pairs of populations, and the logarithm of the geographical distance, the spatial genetic structure can partly be explained by isolation-by-distance and limited gene flow among populations. This result is in agreement with the species' biology, including seed and pollen dispersal by rodents and insects, respectively. In contrast, no clear genetic signal of historical events was found when examining genetic differentiation among populations in relation to biogeographical hypotheses or by testing for bottlenecks within populations. Our conclusion is that nuclear spatial genetic structure of V. americana, at the geographic scale of French Guiana, is better explained by gene flow rather than by historical events.

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