Ex situ conservation is an important strategy for biodiversity conservation, in particular intraspecific genetic diversity. Genetic diversity represents the basis for evolutionary adaptation and resilience to environmental stress and change. However, despite its importance, the scientists still don’t know whether existing ex situ conservation schemes preserves a species’ genetic diversity, especially in high-value species, such as Pinus koraiensis, whose forest genetic resources are drastically reduced in recent years in China.
TONG Yuewei and his colleagues from the Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, used 9 pairs of simple sequence repeat (SSR) primers to study the genetic diversity and population structure of six maternal populations of P. koraiensis as well as their progeny populations in a clonal seed orchard (CSO), a kind of ex situ conservation strategy.
They found that a high genetic diversity in both maternal and progeny populations, the level of genetic diversity in the progeny populations was slightly higher than that in the maternal populations; an overall low level of genetic differentiation was found in both maternal and progeny populations of P. koraiensis; the maternal population structure was not evident anymore in the progeny populations, although differences in diversity were maintained.
Results from this study indicate that the CSO as an ex situ conservation strategy could preserve the established species’ gene pool, and will inform efforts for the conservation and management of P. koraiensis and provide guidance for future studies of population genetics and breeding programs.
Fig. 1 Comparison of the genetic population structure of the maternal and progeny populations of P. koraiensis in the CSO (Image by TONG Yuewei).
This study entitled “Ex situ conservation of Pinus koraiensis can preserve genetic diversity but homogenizes population structure” has been published in Forest Ecology and Management.
This study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China.