Genetic variation of Abies alba (Mill.) in Italy

Laura Parducci, Alfred E. Szmidt, Fiorella Villani, Xiao-Ru Wang and Marcello Cherubini

Hereditas (1996) 125: 11-18.

For reprint send email to: Alfred Szmidt

Abstract

Italy represents the southern limit of Abies alba distribution in Europe. In this region populations are widely spread in different and isolated habitats in the Alps and along the Apennines chain. In the present study we used allozyme markers to estimate the genetic structure of ten natural populations of this species from the northern, central and southern parts of Italy. The observed level of genetic variability in the investigated populations was similar to other conifer species (mean observed heterozygosity ranged from 0.112 to 0.162). The central populations harboured more variability than the populations from the northern and southern parts of Italy. Analysis of the apportionment of genetic diversity within and among populations revealed that 8.7% of the total gene diversity was due to differences among populations. The average genetic distance for all pair-wise comparisons between the ten populations was 0.014. Populations from the central part of Italy showed closer affinity to the southern populations than to the populations occurring in the northern part of Italy. Our present results suggest that the A. alba populations in central Italy have originated through a postglacial blending of two different populations and confirm distinct character of populations from the southern part of the country.
Key words: Abies alba, genetic structure, evolution, allozymes

by Alfred E. Szmidt