Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2019, Vol. 43 ›› Issue (5): 383-395.doi: 10.17521/cjpe.2018.0252

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Advances in the study of population genetic diversity at plant species’ margins

ZHANG Xin-Xin,WANG Xi,HU Ying,ZHOU Wei,CHEN Xiao-Yang,HU Xin-Sheng()   

  1. Guangdong Key Laboratory for Innovative Development and Utilization of Forest Plant Germplasm, College of Forestry and Landscape Architecture, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou 510642, China
  • Received:2018-10-06 Accepted:2019-04-07 Online:2019-10-18 Published:2019-05-20
  • Contact: HU Xin-Sheng


Marginal populations are those at the geographical edge of a species’ distribution. Appropriate evaluation of genetic diversity in marginal populations is of crucial significance for understanding the impacts of climate changes on species expansion or contraction in the post Quaternary glaciations, conservation of genetic resources and exploitation, and peripatric speciation. Here, we discuss the evolutionary mechanisms for maintaining genetic diversity in marginal populations, analyze the role of plant mating system in shaping a plant species’ range and the genetic diversity in marginal populations, assess the difference or similarity in genetic diversity between central and marginal populations and the underlying ecological and evolutionary processes, and discuss the species genetic diversity correlation (SGDC) and the theory underlying such correlations. We proposed that future research includes the use of genome-wide sequences or transcriptome data to study the adaptive differential between leading- and rear-edge populations or between central and marginal populations and the molecular mechanisms of the interactions between the genetic diversity in marginal populations and the species diversity in the resident community of a focal species. This may help to understand the adaptability of marginal populations to local habitats and the ecological and evolutionary processes for SGDC at species’ edges.

Key words: marginal population, central population, genetic diversity, mating system, species diversity

Table 1

Theoretical models of a species’ distribution"

模型 Model 主要观点 Main point 参考文献 Reference
Stochastic niche model or
broken stick model
The niche occupation and its size distribution of each species are random and independent of the niche sizes of other species.
MacArthur, 1957; Whittaker et al., 2010
Lognormal distribution model
物种占有的生态位是随机分布的并受大量因素综合影响, 并不优待某些种。
The niche size of a species is random and determined by the joint effects of a large number of factors, and no selective advantage is present among species.
Preston, 1948
Niche pre-emption model
第一位优势种优先占领生态位空间大部, 第二位占领其余下的大部, 以此类推, 末位只占留下的极少空间。
The first dominant species occupies the largest niche space, followed by the species that occupies the second largest niche in the remaining space, and so on. The last species occupies the minimum niche.
Whittaker, 1972
Neutral community theory
群落内个体总数固定, 某一物种多度的增加必然伴随其他物种的减少; 所有个体出生率、死亡率相同。
The community size is fixed, and a decrease of one species’ abundance is equally compensated by other species. All individuals in the community have the same birth and death rates.
Hubbell, 2001
Mechanism of natural
selection-gene flow
Effects of gene flow from the central to marginal population are in balance with the effects of natural selection in the marginal population.
Haldane, 1956

Fig. 1

Effects of selfing on population genetic structure. The population differentiation coefficient Fst was calculated according to the equation $\frac{1}{F_{st}}=1+4N_{e}(1-\frac{1}{2}\alpha)(m_{s}+\frac{1-\alpha}{2}m_{p})$, and the parameters used were seed flow ms = 0.02, effective population size Ne = 50, and pollen flow mp were 0.001, 0.01 and 0.05."

Table 2

Contrasts in mating systems between central and marginal populations of a range of plant species"

Taxonomic group
Central/subcentral population
Marginal population
Leavenworthia alabamica 自交不亲和 Self-incompatibility 自交亲和/自我受精
Busch, 2005
Juncus atratus 低近交率 Low inbreeding rates 高近交率, 异交率为5.6%
High inbreeding, outcrossing rate = 5.6%
Michalski & Durka, 2007
Camissoniopsis cheiranthifolia 自交不亲和 Self-incompatibility 自交亲和 Self-compatible Dart et al., 2012
Vriesea gigantean 混合交配系统, 低自交率
Mixed mating system, low selfing rates
混合交配系统, 高自交率
Mixed mating system, high selfing rates
Matos et al., 2015
Echium plantagineum; Centaurea solstitialis 本地种群自交不亲和
Self-incompatible in native populations
Self-compatible in invasive populations
Petanidou et al., 2011
冷杉属, 云杉属, 松属
Abies, Picea and Pinus genera
混合交配系统, 低自交率(高种群密度) Mixed mating system, low selfing rates (high population density) 混合交配系统, 高自交率(低种群密度) Mixed mating system, high selfing rates (low population density) Restoux et al., 2008
Arabidopsis lyrata 异交 Outcrossing 自交、混合交配系统 Selfing/mixed-mating Griffin & Willi, 2014

Table 3

Comparison of genetic diversity between central and marginal populations of various plant species and the potential ecological or evolutionary processes responsible for the observed differences"

Genetic diversity in marginal vs. central populations
Ecological or evolutionary mechanisms
Cerasus pseudocerasus
marginal populations < central populations
Founder effect, bottleneck effect
Chen et al., 2012
Salix psammophila
marginal populations < central populations
奠基者效应 Founder effect Hao et al., 2017
Medicago ruthenica, M. archiducis-nicolai
marginal populations < central populations
奠基者效应 Founder effect Wu et al., 2016
Toona ciliata var. pubescens
marginal populations > central populations
生境破碎化 Habitat fragmentation Liu et al., 2013
Pinus koraiensis
marginal populations < central populations
Founder effect, bottleneck effect
Feng et al., 2006
Euptelea pleiospermum
marginal populations < central populations
Postglacial expansion and asymmetric gene flow
Wei et al., 2016
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