Population genetic structure of the relict Serbian spruce, Picea omorika, inferred from plastid DNA
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We used paternally inherited chloroplast microsatellites (cpSSR) to study population genetic structure in the endemic and highly restricted Serbian spruce Picea omorika. Fragment size polymorphism at the five cpSSR regions that could be amplified out of the nine tested combined into only four different haplotypes in the seven populations studied. Mean total haplotypic diversity was H(T) = 0.395, and mean within-population diversity was H(s) = 0.279. Haplotypic variation was lower than in most conifers described so far and partitioned into two geographical groups. All northern P. omorika populations were fixed or nearly fixed for the common haplotype, while southern populations exhibited two to three haplotypes. We suggest that current P. omorika populations are shaped by extreme demographic bottleneck and random genetic drift linked to Quaternary glacial cycles. P. omorika thus belongs to the small group of genetically depauperate tree species.