Despite substantial advances in genotyping techniques and massively accumulated data over the past half century, a uniform measurement of neutral genetic diversity derived by different molecular markers across a wide taxonomical range has not yet been formulated. We collected genetic diversity data on seed plants derived by AFLP, allozyme, ISSR, RAPD, SSR and nucleotide sequences, converted expected heterozygosity (He
) to nucleotide diversity (π), and reassessed the relationship between plant genetic diversity and life history traits or extinction risk. We successfully established a uniform π criterion and developed a comprehensive plant genetic diversity database. The mean population-level and species-level π values across seed plants were 0.00374 (966 taxa, 155 families, 47 orders) and 0.00569 (728 taxa, 130 families, 46 orders), respectively. Significant differences were recovered for breeding system (p
< 0.001) at the population level and geographic range (p
= 0.023) at the species level. Selfing taxa had significantly lower π values than outcrossing and mixed-mating taxa, whereas narrowly distributed taxa had significantly lower π values than widely distributed taxa. Despite significant differences between the two extreme threat categories (critically endangered and least concern), the genetic diversity reduction on the way to extinction was difficult to detect in early stages.
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