Italy represents the southern limit of Abies alba (Mill.) (silver fir) distribution in Europe. In this region, populations are widely spread in different and isolated habitats. We used allozyme markers to study the genetic structure of ten natural populations of this species from the northern, central, and southern parts of Italy. Mean expected heterozygosity ranged from 0.129 to 0.180 and was similar to that found in other conifers. In contrast to other conifers, all the populations investigated in the present study showed a deficiency of heterozygotes. Partial inbreeding due to restricted pollen dispersal and Wahlund effect could be responsible for this situation. The central populations harboured more variability than the populations from other parts of Italy. The present study revealed significant differentiation among the investigated populations. The average genetic distance for all pair-wise comparisons between the ten populations was 0.014. Populations from the central Italy showed closer affinity to the southern populations than to the populations from the northern Italy. Our results suggest that the A. alba populations in central Italy have originated either through a postglacial blending of two different populations or through expansion of the southern populations. In addition, they confirm distinct character of populations from the southern Italy.
|Number of pages||8|
|Publication status||Published - Dec 1 1996|
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