Disentangling the evolutionary history of three related shrub species using genome-wide molecular markers

Dona Kireta, Matthew J. Christmas, Andrew J. Lowe, Martin F. Breed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding population genetic structure provides insight into historic population connectivity, and is largely driven by migration, population size, and species life history. During the last glacial maximum, sea levels around the biogeographically interesting, but poorly studied, South Australian coastal plains and geosyncline were thought to be sufficiently low that three prominent peninsulas (Fleurieu, Yorke, Eyre) and a large offshore island (Kangaroo Island) formed a continuous landmass. However, the degree to which population genetic structure in this region has been shaped by biogeography remains largely untested. Here, we use genome-wide SNP data from three Goodenia shrub species with contrasting growth forms to assess how historical and contemporary processes have shaped population genetic structure. These species occur commonly throughout South Australia and are used extensively in revegetation. The two woody species (Goodenia varia, G. ovata) displayed low genetic differentiation across the southern parts of the peninsulas and island, reflecting historical landscape connectivity. The third more-herbaceous species (G. amplexans) displayed higher genetic structure across the land features, reflecting contemporary disconnectivity. Kangaroo Island and the southern Flinders Ranges had relatively high genetic diversity, providing further evidence that they were important putative Pleistocene refugia. We demonstrate that historic changes in landscape and possible migration to and from refugia, have shaped the population genetic structure in these closely related shrubs, which may have been influenced by contemporary factors and small population sizes. We highlight the importance of using multi-species designs when studying historical population connectivity in understudied regions of the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1101-1112
Number of pages12
JournalConservation Genetics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2019


  • Genetic resource management
  • Genotyping-by-sequencing
  • Goodenia
  • Life history traits
  • Population genetic structure
  • Shrubs


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