Does the genetic diversity among pubescent white oaks in southern Italy, Sicily and Sardinia islands support the current taxonomic classifcation?

Lorenzo Antonino Gianguzzi, Emmanuele Farris, Paola Fortini, Piera Di Marzio, Leonardo Rosati, Markus Müller, Oliver Gailing, Antonio Luca Conte, Giovanni Spampinato, Romeo Di Pietro

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Molecular diversity analysis of deciduous pubescent oaks was conducted for populations from Calabria, Sicily and Sardinia. The aims of this study were twofold. First, to provide data on the genetic diversity of pubescent oaks from an understudied area which currently exhibits one of the highest concentrations of pubescent oak species in Europe. Second, to verify if these groups of oaks are genetically distinct and if their identifcation is in accordance with the current taxonomic classifcation. Molecular analyses of leaf material of 480 trees from seventeen populations belonging to putatively diferent pubescent oak species (Quercus amplifolia, Q. congesta, Q. dalechampii, Q. ichnusae, Q. leptobalanos, Q. virgiliana) were performed. Twelve gene-based Expressed Sequence Tag-Simple Sequence Repeat markers were selected, and genetic diversity and diferentiation were calculated. The results showed relatively high values of allelic richness, heterozygosity and number of private alleles for the populations investigated. A weak but positive correlation between geographical and genetic distance was detected. Genetic assignment (STRUCTURE) and principle coordinate analyses exhibited a weak separation into two genetic groups which, however, did not correspond to the taxonomic, chorological and ecological features of the populations investigated. Sardinian populations formed one group which was separated from the Calabrian and Sicilian populations. In light of the results obtained, the taxonomic classifcation for the pubescent white oaks currently reported in the major Italian foras and checklists for the study area was not confrmed by molecular analyses.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Forest Research
Publication statusPublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Forestry
  • Plant Science

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