We investigated the extent of genetic differentiation among populations of fujihatazao, Arabis serrata along an altitudinal gradient at Mt. Fuji in Shizuoka Prefecture. This species is a perennial plant, widely distributed in Japan forming small isolated populations. However, at Mt. Fuji, this species constitutes a large population distributed from 1440 to 2400 m altitude. A total of 411 individuals were sampled from ten subpopulations. Eighteen loci were detected on eleven enzyme systems. Eleven loci were monomorphic and seven loci were polymorphic with a mean of 2.11 alleles per loci. Nei's genetic distance (mean 0.01) and genetic identity (mean 0.968) were very similar among populations indicating a low genetic differentiation. The total genetic diversity (HT) estimated for the polymorphic loci was, in average, 0.396. The mean gene differentiation (GST=0.091) was very low. Gene frequency of seven polymorphic loci was analyzed by spatial autocorrelation methods based on Moran's indexes. Only Pgi-3 exhibited a significant negative autocorrelation (-0.160;P<0.05); other loci values ranged from -0.134 to 0.027. Gene flow estimated by indirect methods varied between genes but most of the values were high (mean Nm=20.8) suggesting that subpopulations at different altitudes are probably connected. Despite plants at different altitudes present different ecological traits (e.g., differences in phenology, growth and reproductive traits), subpopulations of A. serrata are still low differentiated, at least for the loci studied. This may be explained by the recent origin of some habitats (e.g., second crater and surrounded areas) in this locality.
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