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Separation of DNA by electrophoresis
DNA fingerprinting of plants using microsatellites

Willow genetic diversity

Willows are dioecious and can show clonal growth. In some cases, isolated stands consist of plants all of one sex. This suggests that at these sites individual populations may consist of one or a few clones. In other cases both male and female plants coexist, seed set occurs and there is the potential for sexual recruitment and high levels of clonal diversity. Clones may differ in a range of physical and biochemical characters, which while often having a complicated underlying genetic base, nevertheless represent attributes of a genotype that can affect its interaction with its local abiotic and biotic environment.

Establishing the importance of the clonal composition of willows for interactions with their local ecosystem requires an understanding of the amounts and dynamics of genotypic diversity. For the current project microsatellites were used to assess population genetic structure. The known clonal diversity provided a framework for comparisons with other ecosystem components. In addition, both indirect and direct measures of gene flow were made, which, coupled with studies on reproductive ecology, aimed to provide insights into patterns of reproduction and dispersal to guide conservation strategies for these species.

©2002. Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh.