Biodiv Sci ›› 2009, Vol. 17 ›› Issue (4): 330-339.  DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.09127

Special Issue: 保护生物学: 现状和挑战 物种形成与系统进化

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Not only genetic diversity: advances in plant conservation genetics

Zhengfeng Wang1,2, Xuejun Ge1,*()   

  1. 1 Key Laboratory of Plant Resources Conservation and Sustainable Utilization, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650
    2 Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Digital Botanical Garden, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650
  • Received:2009-05-19 Accepted:2009-07-02 Online:2009-07-20 Published:2009-07-20
  • Contact: Xuejun Ge


Conservation genetics deals with the genetic factors that affect extinction risk and genetic management regimes required to minimize these risks. In this review, we introduce the advance from the genetic diversity study and the influence of genetic diversity on ecosystem. Until now, most of conservation genetic studies still adopt selective neutral genetic markers, which generate a large amount of valuable information for conservation theory and practice. Two important implications of conservation genetics are introduced: (1) the identification of individuals, genetic unit or species, which is very important for conservation strategy making and efficiency improving; and (2) cryptic bottleneck caused by reproduction and dispersal limitation, which is often neglected in conservation practice. Generally, neutral genetic markers may not provide enough information for the genetic basis of species adaptation. In recent years, along with the development of genomics, more and more studies begin to investigate the genetic basis of adaptation by using adaptive genetic markers. Limited by lack of the functional gene information, most of these studies adopt the genome scanning approach. The development of landscape genetics promotes the understanding of the neglected relationship between genetic diversity and the landscape heterogeneity. In addition to the genetic diversity study itself, some studies found that plant genetic diversity may influence the ecosystem structure and function. This illustrates that genetic diversity in both endangered species and common species can play an important role to ecosystem integrity and sustainability. Finally, we briefly discuss how to integrate the genetic diversity into conservation practice more effectively. And, we also indicate the gap between Chinese and international advanced studies at the area of conservation genetics.

Key words: selective neutral genetic variation, adaptive genetic variation, landscape genetics, ecosystem