Genetic Structure and Diversity of Glycyrrhiza Populations Based on Transcriptome SSR Markers

  • Yaling Liu
  • Yaping Geng
  • Meiling Song
  • Pengfei Zhang
  • Junling HouEmail author
  • Wenquan WangEmail author
Original Paper


Glycyrrhiza is a widely used traditional Chinese herb with medicinal value. Recently, however, Glycyrrhiza biodiversity has faced an unprecedented threat due to its increasing demand and sharp reduction in number and population. Therefore, we have studied Glycyrrhiza’s genetic diversity to reveal its distribution pattern and evolutionary mechanism. Towards this end, a total of 736 samples from 43 populations of four Glycyrrhiza species (G. uralensis Fisch., G. inflata Bat., G. glabra L., and G. pallidiflora Maxim.) were collected, with nine simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers developed in order to evaluate the genetic structure of populations. Results show that G. uralensis has the highest genetic diversity while G. inflata has the lowest. Moreover, the overall genetic diversity of all four species is higher than that of each individual species, revealing that Glycyrrhiza is genetically diverse. In terms of interspecies differentiation, the average observed heterozygosity is lower than the expected heterozygosity, implying a heterozygote deficiency in more homozygous populations. UPGMA and PCA indicate high genetic distance, with the furthest distance found between G. pallidiflora and G. inflata. Furthermore, AMOVA results show that genetic variation between species is more significant than genetic difference between geographical regions, indicating a high gene flow. Likewise, genetic variation within populations is significantly higher than between populations or among species, indicating a strong natural selection within populations. In sum, our study provides a scientific basis for the rational development, protection, and sustainable utilization of germplasm resources.


Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch. Glycyrrhiza inflata Bat. Glycyrrhiza glabra L. Glycyrrhiza pallidiflora Maxim. SSR markers Genetic diversity 



This study was supported by the Natingal Natural Science Foundation of China (31400285) and the China Herbal Medicine Standardization Production Technology Service Platform [Ministry of Consumption (2011) 340].

Open Access

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( which permits the unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors’ Contributions

Y.L. and Y. P. wrote the manuscript and analyzed the data. M.L. performed most of the experiments. P.F. helped with the collection of samples. W.W. and J.L. designed the study and helped with the experiments. All authors approved the manuscript.

Supplementary material

11105_2019_1165_MOESM1_ESM.docx (21 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 20 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Life ScienceShanxi Agricultural UniversityTaiguPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.School of Chinese PharmacyBeijing University of Chinese MedicineBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.College of Basic MedicineJiangXi College of Traditional Chinese MedicineFuzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Institute of Medicinal Plant DevelopmentChinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical CollegeBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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