Testing the effect of mountain ranges as a physical barrier to current gene flow and environmentally dependent adaptive divergence in Cunninghamia konishii (Cupressaceae)

Yi Shao Li, Kai Ming Shih, Chung Te Chang, Jeng Der Chung, Shih Ying Hwang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Populations can be genetically isolated by differences in their ecology or environment that hampered efficient migration, or they may be isolated solely by geographic distance. Moreover, mountain ranges across a species' distribution area might have acted as barriers to gene flow. Genetic variation was quantified using amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) and 13 selective amplification primer combinations used generated a total of 482 fragments. Here, we tested the barrier effects of mountains on gene flow and environmentally dependent local adaptation of Cunninghamia konishii occur in Taiwan. A pattern of genetic isolation by distance was not found and variation partitioning revealed that environment explained a relatively larger proportion of genetic variation than geography. The effect of mountains as barriers to genetic exchange, despite low population differentiation indicating a high rate of gene flow, was found within the distribution range of C. konishii. Twelve AFLP loci were identified as potential selective outliers using genome-scan methods (BAYESCAN and DFDIST) and strongly associated with environmental variables using regression approaches (LFMM, Samβada, and rstanarm) demonstrating adaptive divergence underlying local adaptation. Annual mean temperature, annual precipitation, and slope could be the most important environmental factors causally associated with adaptive genetic variation in C. konishii. The study revealed the existence of physical barriers to current gene flow and environmentally dependent adaptive divergence, and a significant proportion of the rate of gene flow may represent a reflection of demographic history.

Original languageEnglish
Article number742
JournalFrontiers in Genetics
Issue numberJUL
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jan 1



  • AFLP
  • Barriers to gene flow
  • Conservation
  • Cunninghamia konishii
  • Mountain ranges

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

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