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Open AccessArticle

Genetic Diversity and Range Dynamics of Helleborus odorus subsp. cyclophyllus under Different Climate Change Scenarios

1
Division of Plant Biology, Laboratory of Botany, Department of Biology, University of Patras, 26504 Patras, Greece
2
Department of Ecology and Systematics, Faculty of Biology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Panepistimiopolis, 15701 Athens, Greece
3
Laboratory of Systematic Botany, Department of Crop Science, Agricultural University of Athens, Iera Odos 75, 11855 Athens, Greece
4
Laboratory of Agricultural Genetics and Breeding, Department of Agriculture, University of Patras, Theodoropoulou Str, 27200 Amaliada, Greece
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Forests 2020, 11(6), 620; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11060620
Received: 9 May 2020 / Revised: 26 May 2020 / Accepted: 27 May 2020 / Published: 1 June 2020
Research Highlights: The effects of climate change on habitat loss, range shift and/or genetic impoverishment of mid-elevation plants has received less attention compared to alpine species. Moreover, genetic diversity patterns of mountain forest herbaceous species have scarcely been explored in the Balkans. In this context, our study is the first that aims to examine Helleborus odorus subsp. cyclophyllus, a medicinal plant endemic to the southern part of the Balkan Peninsula. Background and Objectives: We compare its genetic diversity and structure along the continuous mountain range of western Greece with the topographically less structured mountains of eastern Greece, and predict its present and future habitat suitability, using several environmental variables. Materials and Methods: Inter Simple Sequence Repeat (ISSR) markers were used to genotype 80 individuals from 8 populations, covering almost the species’ entire distribution range in Greece. We investigated the factors shaping its genetic composition and driving its current and future distribution. Results: High gene diversity (0.2239–0.3319), moderate population differentiation (0.0317–0.3316) and increased gene flow (Nm = 1.3098) was detected. According to any GCM/RCP/climate database combination, Helleborus odorus subsp. cyclophyllus is projected to lose a significant portion of its current distribution by 2070 and follow a trend towards genetic homogenization. Conclusions: Populations exhibit in terms of genetic structure a west–east genetic split, which becomes more evident southwards. This is mainly due to geographic/topographic factors and their interplay with Quaternary climatic oscillations, and to environmental constraints, which may have a negative impact on the species’ future distribution and genetic composition. Pindos mountain range seems to buffer climate change effects and will probably continue to host several populations. On the other hand, peripheral populations have lower genetic diversity compared to central populations, but still hold significant evolutionary potential due to the private alleles they maintain. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate alterations; mid-elevation plants; range distribution; genetic variability; molecular markers climate alterations; mid-elevation plants; range distribution; genetic variability; molecular markers
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Fassou, G.; Kougioumoutzis, K.; Iatrou, G.; Trigas, P.; Papasotiropoulos, V. Genetic Diversity and Range Dynamics of Helleborus odorus subsp. cyclophyllus under Different Climate Change Scenarios. Forests 2020, 11, 620.

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