Population genetic structure of Glycyrrhiza inflata B. (Fabaceae) is shaped by habitat fragmentation, water resources and biological characteristics

Lulu Yang, Jianjun Chen, Weiming Hu, Tianshun Yang, Yanjun Zhang, Tamura Yukiyoshi, Yanyang Zhou, Ying Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Background: Habitat fragmentation, water resources and biological characteristics are important factors that shape the genetic structure and geographical distribution of desert plants. Analysis of the relationships between these factors and population genetic variation should help to determine the evolutionary potential and conservation strategies for genetic resources for desert plant populations. As a traditional Chinese herb, Glycyrrhiza inflata B. (Fabaceae) is restricted to the fragmented desert habitat in China and has undergone a dramatic decline due to long-term over-excavation. Determining the genetic structure of the G. inflata population and identifying a core collection could help with the development of strategies to conserve this species. Results: We investigated the genetic variation of 25 G. inflata populations based on microsatellite markers. A high level of population genetic divergence (FST = 0.257), population bottlenecks, reduced gene flow and moderate genetic variation (HE = 0.383) were detected. The genetic distances between the populations significantly correlated with the geographical distances, and this suggests that habitat fragmentation has driven a special genetic structure of G. inflata in China through isolation by distance. STRUCTURE analysis showed that G. inflata populations were structured into three clusters and that the populations belonged to multiple water systems, which suggests that water resources were related to the genetic structure of G. inflata. In addition, the biological characteristics of the perennial species G. inflata, such as its long-lived seeds, asexual reproduction, and oasis ecology, may be related to its resistance to habitat fragmentation. A core collection of G. inflata, that included 57 accessions was further identified, which captured the main allelic diversity of G. inflata. Conclusions: Recent habitat fragmentation has accelerated genetic divergence. The population genetic structure of G. inflata has been shaped by habitat fragmentation, water resources and biological characteristics. This genetic information and core collection will facilitate the conservation of wild germplasm and breeding of this Chinese medicinal plant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number0164129
JournalPloS one
Volume11
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was partially supported by the Licorice International Cooperation Project with Maruzen Pharmaceuticals Co., LTD. (Y051011001). Tamura Yukiyoshi and Yanyang Zhou are employed by Maruzen Pharmaceuticals Co., LTD. There are no patents, products in development or marketed products to declare. This does not alter our adherence to all the PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials, as detailed online in the guide for authors.

Funding Information:
This research was partially supported by the Talent Introduction Project of the South China Botanical Garden, STS Project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KFJ-EW-STS-118), and the Licorice International Cooperation Project with Maruzen Pharmaceuticals Co., LTD. (Y051011001). We would like to thank Dr. F. S. Zhou for helping with the facilities and Dr. J. Yan for polishing the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Yang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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