J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2008, Vol. 50 ›› Issue (9): 1118-1129.DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2008.00635.x

Special Issue: Ecology and Global Changes

• Molecular Ecology and Evolution • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Population Genetic Structure of the Medicinal Plant Vitex rotundifolia in China: Implications for its Use and Conservation

Yuan Hu, Yu Zhu, Qiao-Yan Zhang, Hai-Liang Xin, Lu-Ping Qin, Bao-Rong Lu, Khalid Rahman and Han-Chen Zheng   

  • Received:2007-02-10 Accepted:2007-07-17

Abstract: Vitex rotundifolia L. is an important plant species used in traditional Chinese medicine. For its efficient use and conservation, genetic diversity and clonal variation of V. rotundifolia populations in China were investigated using inter-simple sequence repeat markers. Fourteen natural populations were included to estimate genetic diversity, and a large population with 135 individuals was used to analyze clonal variation and fine-scale spatial genetic structure. The overall genetic diversity (GD) of V. rotundifolia populations in China was moderate (GD = 0.190), with about 40% within-population variation. Across all populations surveyed, the average within-population diversity was moderate (P = 22.6%; GD = 0.086). A relatively high genetic differentiation (Gst = 0.587) among populations was detected based on the analysis of molecular variance data. Such characteristics of V. rotundifolia are likely attributed to its sexual/asexual reproduction and limited gene flow. The genotypic diversity (D = 0.992) was greater than the average values of a clonal plant, indicating its significant reproduction through seedlings. Spatial autocorrelation analysis showed a clear within-population structure with gene clusters of approximately 20 m. Genetic diversity patterns of V. rotundifolia in China provide a useful guide for its efficient use and conservation by selecting particular populations displaying greater variation that may contain required medicinal compounds, and by sampling individuals in a population at >20 m spatial intervals to avoid collecting individuals with identical or similar genotypes.

Key words: beach vitex, medicinal plant, conservation, Vitex rotundifolia, gene cluster, genetic diversity, sampling strategy, spatial structure

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