The genetic diversity and structure of Pulsatilla cernua, a continental-grassland relict, were investigated using variations in chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) and microsatellites of nuclear DNA. In the analyses of three cpDNA regions, 17 haplotypes were found in 24 populations of P. cernua from Japan, Korea, and Russia. Although the route and time of migration between the continent of Asia and Japan could not be well resolved, the cpDNA haplotype network suggests the existence of several ancient lineages in Japan and a recent secondary migration from Japan to the continent. Microsatellite analyses did not indicate genetic structure among the Japanese populations, indicating the existence of gene flow across the distribution area until recently. These results indicate that the present fragmentation of P. cernua in Japan may reflect a rapid, recent reduction from a previously large, continuous distribution.
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