Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 304, Issue 6, pp 731–745 | Cite as

Assessment of spatial–temporal variation in natural populations of Brassica incana in south Italy: implications for conservation

  • Simona Ciancaleoni
  • Lorenzo Raggi
  • Valeria Negri
Original Article


Brassica incana is a secondary-gene pool wild relative of Brassica oleracea. Twenty-two B. incana populations are recorded in Italy, where the species has recently been pointed out as in priority need of conservation. While data on the spatial and temporal variation of B. incana Italian populations are completely lacking, this information is useful in conservation planning for this species. Three populations from the Sorrento peninsula and from the islands of Ischia and Capri, collected in 1984 and 2012, were characterised for 12 morpho-phenological and 21 genetic traits to assess their spatial–temporal variation. The populations were quite different for morpho-phenological and genetic traits. Spatial differentiation was high and easily explained by the isolation. Temporal differentiation between the Sorrento and Ischia populations was high and explained by a reduction in the population census across time, while it was not significant between the two Capri accessions as such pointing to a major effect of genetic drift. Numerical dimension is extremely relevant in evaluating conservation priorities since it has a major impact on population dynamics over time. The Sorrento and Ischia populations are under threat and urgently need conservation actions, suggesting an alarming scenario for the survival of other crop wild relative populations which are similar in census. Our data also show that, in an allogamous and self-incompatible species like B. incana, populations of 100–200 individuals maintain high allelic diversity. According to obtained results, natural populations of species with similar reproductive system and census can be considered at low risk of genetic erosion.


Brassica incana Crop wild relatives Microevolution Plant population genetics Spatial–temporal genetic variation 



S. Ciancaleoni and L. Raggi contributed equally to this work and must be both considered first authors. This research was partially funded by Fondo Ricerca di Base 2015, Università degli Studi di Perugia, “Analisi spazio-temporale dei cambiamenti genetici e valutazione agronomica e morfo-fisiologica in moltiplicazioni di una varietà sintetica e in linee inbred di Brassica oleracea L.” and by the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007-2013) under the Grant Agreement No. 266394 “PGR Secure”. Thanks are due to Prof. Roberto Venanzoni (Università degli Studi di Perugia) and Dr. Lorenzo Panella for their help in collecting B. incana wild populations in 2012. The English editing has been done by Miriam Drissi.

Supplementary material

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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Alimentari e Ambientali (DSA3)Università degli Studi di PerugiaPerugiaItaly

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