Patterns of genetic divergence among populations of the pseudometallophyte Biscutella laevigata from southern Poland

Alicja A. Babst-Kostecka, Christian Parisod, Cécile Godé, Pierre Vollenweider, Maxime Pauwels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background and aims: Pseudometallophytes are model organisms for adaptation and population differentiation because they persist in contrasting edaphic conditions of metalliferous and non-metalliferous habitats. We examine patterns of genetic divergence and local adaptation of Biscutella laevigata to assess historical and evolutionary processes shaping its genetic structure.

Methods: We sampled all known populations of B. laevigata in Poland and analyzed respective soil metal concentrations. For genotyping we used nine nuclear microsatellite loci. Population genetic pools were identified (Bayesian clustering) and we estimated genetic parameters and demographic divergence between metallicolous and non-metallicolous populations (ABC-approach).

Results: Populations clustered into two groups which corresponded to their edaphic origin and diverged 1,200 generations ago. We detected a significant decrease in genetic diversity and evidence for a recent bottleneck in metallicolous populations. Genetic structure was unrelated to site distribution but is rather influenced by environmental conditions (i.e. soil metal concentration).

Conclusions: The intriguing disjunctive distribution of B. laevigata in Poland results from a fragmentation of the species range during the Holocene, rather than recent long-distance-dispersal events. The genetic structure of populations, however, continues to be modified by microevolutionary processes at anthropogenic sites. These clear divergence patterns promote B. laevigata as a model species for plant adaptation to polluted environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-256
Number of pages12
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptation
  • Biogeography
  • Genetic structure
  • Metal trace elements
  • Pollution
  • Relic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science


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