The conservation of narrow endemic species relies on accurate information regarding their population structure. Juglans hopeiensis Hu (Ma walnut), found only in Hebei province, Beijing, and Tianjin, China, is a threatened tree species valued commercially for its nut and wood. Sequences of two maternally inherited mitochondrial markers and two maternally inherited chloroplast intergenic spacers, three nuclear DNA sequences, and allele sizes from 11 microsatellites were obtained from 108 individuals of J. hopeiensis, Juglans regia, and Juglans mandshurica. Haplotype networks were constructed using NETWORK. Genetic diversity, population differentiation, and analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) were used to determine genetic structure. MEGA was used to construct phylogenetic trees. Genetic diversity of J. hopeiensis was moderate based on nuclear DNA, but low based on uniparentally inherited mitochondrial DNA and chloroplast DNA. Haplotype networks showed that J. hopeiensis haplotypes were different than haplotypes found in J. regia and J. mandshurica. Allelic variants in nuclear genes that were shared among J. hopeiensis populations were not found in J. regia or J. mandshurica. Sampled populations of J. hopeiensis showed clear genetic structure. The maximum parsimony (MP) tree showed J. hopeiensis to be distinct from J. mandshurica but threatened by hybridization with J. regia and J. mandshurica. J. hopeiensis populations are strongly differentiated from sympatric Juglans species, but they are threatened by small population sizes and hybridization.
Hu, Yiheng; Dang, Meng; Feng, Xiaojia; Woeste, Keith; Zhao, Peng. 2017. Genetic diversity and population structure in the narrow endemic Chinese walnut Juglans hopeiensis Hu: implications for conservation. Tree Genetics & Genomes. 13(4): 91. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11295-017-1172-6.