Genetic diversity differences between parental and progeny population of populus euphratica populations in a fragmented river ecosystem

Çelik, Mert
Euphrates poplar, also known as desert poplar in the literature, grows along riverbanks in arid and semi-arid regions and is well-known for its high tolerance to broad temperature changes, drought, and soils with high salt content. The presence of healthy Euphrates poplar forests in riparian ecosystems is of high importance due to their direct effect on local biodiversity as being pioneer species within their habitats. In addition to its positive impact on biodiversity, the species’ healthy and unfragmented populations provide valuable ecosystem services such as watershed protection, riverbank stabilization, erosion prevention, and windbreak formation. However, current populations show a decreasing trend across the globe due to various anthropogenic factors, including the transformation of rivers’ hydrological characteristics due to improper water management, groundwater pollution, and excessive logging. Therefore, determining the species’ genetic potential with an agebased perspective can create the backbone of future conservation measures by revealing information regarding the extent of genetic diversity transfer between mature and young stands, as well as the generative regeneration capacity of natural populations. In this study, the genetic diversity of mature and young stands found along three distinct locations (upstream, midstream, and downstream) of the Göksu River were compared via genotypic data created by 15 microsatellite markers. Low to moderate allelic diversity and heterozygosity values were obtained in all age structures, pointing out the gene pool shrinkage associated with sudden reductions in population size. Nevertheless, low clonality and highly similar genetic diversity values of mature and young stands revealed the relative success of genetic diversity transfer in all populations. The genetic structure of age groups also exhibited the lack of agebased genetic differentiation due to high-degree gene flow between the mature and young stands found in the same locality. As being the most distant population in terms of genetic structure, the downstream location (GDOWN) has the highest genetic diversity values together with the highest number of private alleles found in its young population. Therefore, in order to avoid further loss of genetic diversity, the downstream population can be subject to both in-situ and ex-situ conservation measures.
Citation Formats
M. Çelik, “Genetic diversity differences between parental and progeny population of populus euphratica populations in a fragmented river ecosystem,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2021.