J Syst Evol ›› 2023, Vol. 61 ›› Issue (1): 143-156.DOI: 10.1111/jse.12821

Special Issue: test

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Low genetic diversity and population connectivity fuel vulnerability to climate change for the Tertiary relict pine Pinus bungeana

Jing‐Fang Guo1†, Baosheng Wang2†, Zhan‐Lin Liu3†, Jian‐Feng Mao1, Xiao‐Ru Wang1,4, and Wei Zhao4*   

  1. 1 National Engineering Laboratory for Tree Breeding; Key Laboratory of Genetics and Breeding in Forest Trees and Ornamental Plants, Ministry of Education; The Tree and Ornamental Plant Breeding and Biotechnology Laboratory of National Forestry and Grassland Administration, College of Biological Sciences and Technology, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China
    2 Key Laboratory of Plant Resources Conservation and Sustainable Utilization, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650, China
    3 Key Laboratory of Resource Biology and Biotechnology in Western China (Ministry of Education), College of Life Science, Northwest University, Xi'an 710069, China
    4 Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå Plant Science Centre, Umeå University, Umeå 901 87, Sweden

    These authors contributed equally to this work.
    *Author for correspondence. E‐mail: zhao.wei@umu.se
  • Received:2021-07-25 Accepted:2021-12-08 Online:2021-12-18 Published:2023-01-01


Endemic species are important components of regional biodiversity and hold the key to understanding local adaptation and evolutionary processes that shape species distributions. This study investigated the biogeographic history of a relict conifer Pinus bungeana Zucc. ex Endl. confined to central China. We examined genetic diversity in P. bungeana using genotyping-by-sequencing and chloroplast and mitochondrial DNA markers. We performed spatial and temporal inference of recent genetic and demographic changes, and dissected the impacts of geography and environmental gradients on population differentiation. We then projected P. bungeana's risk of decline under future climates. We found extremely low nucleotide diversity (average π 0.0014), and strong population structure (global FST 0.234) even at regional scales, reflecting long-term isolation in small populations. The species experienced severe bottlenecks in the early Pliocene and continued to decline in the Pleistocene in the western distribution, whereas the east expanded recently. Local adaptation played a small (8%) but significant role in population diversity. Low genetic diversity in fragmented populations makes the species highly vulnerable to climate change, particularly in marginal and relict populations. We suggest that conservation efforts should focus on enhancing gene pool and population growth through assisted migration within each genetic cluster to reduce the risk of further genetic drift and extinction.

Key words: climate relict, genetic diversity, genomic offset, migration barrier, Pinus bungeana, population bottleneck