Biodiv Sci ›› 2009, Vol. 17 ›› Issue (1): 51-61.  DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08169

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Community characteristics of Arabidopsis thaliana natural populations in the northern Tianshan Mountains along with relevant environmental factors

Ye Tao1, Dan Wang1, Tong Liu1,*(), Chengguo Jiang1, Wei Zhai1, Yongguan Li1, Cheng Tang2   

  1. 1 College of Life Sciences, Shihezi University, Shihezi 832000
    2 Forestry Department of Agricultural College, Shihezi University, Shihezi 832000
  • Received:2008-07-21 Accepted:2008-12-31 Online:2009-01-20 Published:2009-01-20
  • Contact: Tong Liu


Arabidopsis thaliana is a model organism widely-used to study molecular and developmental biology, physiology and cell biology. The Tianshan Mountains is one of the main distribution regions of A. thaliana. To evaluate the distribution and the environmental stress of A. thaliana in arid land, we characterized A. thaliana communities in the northern Tianshan Mountains along with relevant environmental factors. Eight communities found in the middle Tianshan Mountains were herb types and their dominant species were similar, but another five communities distributed in the western Tianshans and Altai region were markedly different. The recorded 77 species were classified into 22 families and 64 genera, and species richness of the 13 communities was relatively low. Most species belonged to Cosmopolitan (areal-type 1), North Temperate (areal-type 8), Mediterranean, and West Asia to Central Asia (areal-type 12) areal-types, reflecting the arid and semi-arid geographical features of the area. Based on the Two-Way Indicator Species Analysis (TWINSPAN) method, the 13 communities were classified into five hierarchical levels: Seriphidium kaschgaricum-Salsola collina-Ceratocephalus testiculatus, S. kaschgaricum-S. collina, S. kaschgaricum-Lappula semiglabra, S. kaschgaricum-Eremopyrum triticeum, and Myosotis sylvatica-Cyperus microiria. Interspecific association analysis showed that among 62 main species in the 13 communities, 119 species-pairs exhibited significant a positive association; more than the 72 species-pairs with a negative association. In particular, A. thaliana showed a statistically significant, positive association with the dominant species in each community, indicating a strong positive dependence of A. thaliana with other species. Detrended Canonical Correspondence Analysis (DCCA) showed that longitude, topography, soil organic matter and pH were the dominant factors affecting the distribution of A. thaliana populations in the northern Tianshan Mountains. Abundance and distribution of species differed among communities. Populations were more prevalent in the middle northern Tianshan Mountains with lower rainfall than in the western Tianshan Mountains. Further research is needed to explain whether there is the adaptive differentiation.

Key words: Arabidopsis thaliana, vegetation-environment relationships, flora analysis, classification, ordination, interspecific association, arid and semi-arid area