Original paper

Vegetative multiplication and spatial genetic structure in patches of Convallaria majalis L. (Ruscaceae)

Braune, Steffen; Lieske, Kathrin; Frey, Wolfgang; Pfeiffer, Tanja

Abstract

Within this study the characteristics of clonal reproduction, clonal and genetic spatial structure of the rhizomatous geophyte Convallaria majalis were investigated using a combined morpho-ecological and molecular approach. Three patches in natural populations and one subpopulation from different-aged forests in Germany were analysed. In the patches, the characteristics of clonal growth and clonal reproduction were examined. Spatial clonal structure was studied by reconstructing merigenet relationships through excavation and the detection of fragmentation events. Patch-, subpopulation- and additional outgroup-samples were analysed by AFLP fingerprinting to identify genets. Furthermore, AFLP data of the subpopulation samples were subjected to a Mantel test and spatial autocorrelation analysis. Morphological investigations revealed the regular occurrence of breaking and rotting zones within the rhizome of Convallaria majalis which indicate a consequent vegetative multiplication. Very similar AFLP profiles assigned morphologically separated merigenets to the same genet, further substantiating the relevance of clonal reproduction. Within the studied subpopulation, genetic distance increased with increasing spatial distance, indicating a higher relatedness of neighbours. Statistical analysis revealed evidence for a non-random spatial genetic structure up to about 10 m. The relevance of the observed vegetative multiplication, the role of generative reproduction and the importance of physiological integration for the initial colonisation and habitat maintenance are discussed.

Keywords

aflpconvallaria majalisgenerative reproductiongenotypingmerigenetmodulespatial genetic structurevegetative multiplication