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Organization of nuclear ribosomal DNA and species-specific polymorphism in closely related Fraxinus excelsior and F. oxyphylla

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The ribosomal DNA repeat units of two closely related species of the genus Fraxinus, F. excelsior and F. oxyphylla, were characterized. The physical maps were constructed from DNA digested with BamHI, EcoRI, EcoRV and SacI, and hybridized with three heterologous probes. The presence or the absence of an EcoRV restriction site in the 18s RNA gene characterizes two ribosomal DNA unit types found in both species and which coexist in all individuals. A third unit type appeared unique to all individuals of F. oxyphylla. It carries an EcoRI site in the intergenic spacer. Each type of unit displayed length variations. The rDNA unit length of F. excelsior and F. oxyphylla was determined with EcoRV restriction. It varied between 11kb and 14.5kb in F. excelsior and between 11.8kb to 13.8kb in F. oxyphylla. Using SacI restriction, at least ten spacer length variants were observed in F. excelsior, for which a detailed analysis was conducted. Each individual carries 2–4 length variants which vary by a 0.3-kb step multiple. This length variation was assigned to the intergenic spacer. By using the entire rDNA unit of flax as probe in combination with EcoRI restriction, each species can be unambiguously discriminated. The species-specific banding pattern was used to compare trees from a zone of sympatry between the two species. In some cases, a conflicting classification was obtained from morphological analysis and the use of the species-specific rDNA polymorphism. Implications for the genetic management of both species are discussed.

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Communicated by P. M. A. Tigerstedt

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Jeandroz, G., Faivre-Rampant, F., Pugin, A. et al. Organization of nuclear ribosomal DNA and species-specific polymorphism in closely related Fraxinus excelsior and F. oxyphylla . Theoret. Appl. Genetics 91, 885–892 (1995).

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Key words

  • Fraxinus excelsior
  • Fraxinus oxyphylla
  • Nuclear rDNA
  • Intergenic spacer variation
  • Interspecific hybridization