Plant Ecology

, Volume 220, Issue 1, pp 69–81 | Cite as

Microsatellite analysis reveals the resilience of genetic diversity within extant populations of three Akebia species to chronic forest fragmentation in China

  • Li Li
  • Qiang Xu
  • Xiaohong YaoEmail author


The species of Akebia Decne are well-known medicinal plants and have been used in Chinese herbalism for at least 2000 years. The Akebia fruits have a delicious flavor and high nutritional value and are especially rich in antineoplastic, diuretic and antiphlogistic properties, making them worthy of being exploited as a new high-value crop. However, the nature habitats of the Akebia species have been fragmented due to rapid and intensive expansion of agricultural land. In this study, population genetics based on simple sequence repeat markers were conducted on the three most economically important Akebia species in order to reveal the genetic effects of habitat fragmentation to gain useful information for conservation and management of genetic resources of Akebia. Three Akebia species maintained high within-population genetic variation and low level of genetic differentiation. Mantel’s test indicated that there was a significantly positive correlation between genetic distance and geographic distance. Our results reveal the resilience of genetic diversity within extant populations of three Akebia species to chronic forest fragmentation. For breeding purpose, germplasm collection for sampling as many individuals as possible from many populations to maximize genetic diversity of the species is recommended. In addition, natural introgression events have been revealed by Cluster and Structure analysis where admixed ancestry occurred across three marginal populations of A. trifoliata ssp. australis, suggesting these populations should be given priority for germplasm collection.


Akebia Microsatellites Habitat fragmentation Genetic diversity Introgression 



We are grateful to Peter W. Fritsch for his assistance and advice, and Mrs Hua Tian who provided assistance in collecting the samples. The study was supported in part by the Natural Scientific Foundation of China (31770374) and the Plant Germplasm Innovation Program, Science and Technology Service Network Initiative, Chinese Academy of Sciences (ZSZC-007).

Supplementary material

11258_2018_903_MOESM1_ESM.docx (21 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 20 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Plant Germplasm Enhancement and Specialty Agriculture, Wuhan Botanical GardenThe Chinese Academy of SciencesWuhanChina
  2. 2.Shangrao Vocational and Technical CollegeShangraoChina

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