Analysis of the Genetic Diversity and Population Structure of Latvian Ash (Fraxinus excelsior L.) Stands using Nuclear and Chloroplast SSR Markers

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Abstract

Common ash (Fraxinus excelsior L.) has a widespread distribution throughout Europe, and Latvia is almost at the north eastern edge of the distribution range. In Europe, ash is threatened by ash dieback, a disease caused by the introduced ascomycete Hymenoscyphus fraxineus. Chloroplast and nuclear DNA markers have been used to study the genetic diversity and population structure of ash both in a broader pan-European context as well as in more restricted regions. Some of the markers analysed in these previously published reports were also utilised in this study, enabling comparisons of the genetic parameters calculated from the nuclear SSR marker data and of the haplotypes identified with the chloroplast markers. Analysis of chloroplast markers revealed one dominant haplotype in Latvian stands, which corresponds to the haplotype previously found in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. A second haplotype, corresponding to a previously reported central European haplotype was found in all individuals from the Ķemeri stand, indicating that this stand was naturally established from introduced germplasm, which was planted in a neighbouring park. The nuclear SSR markers revealed low levels of differentiation of Latvian F. excelsior stands, probably due efficient pollen flow between stands. The analysis of both chloroplast and nuclear DNA markers has revealed different aspects of the structure and provenance of Latvian F. excelsior populations.

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