Low genetic diversity and high levels of inbreeding in the Sinai primrose (Primula boveana), a species on the brink of extinction
Primula apennina Widmer is endemic to the North Apennines (Italy). ISSR were used to detect the genetic diversity within and among six populations representative of the species distribution range. High levels of genetic diversity were revealed both at population percentage of polymorphic band (PPB = 75.92%, H S = 0.204, H pop = 0.319) and at species level (PPB = 96.95%, H T = 0.242, H sp = 0.381). Nei gene diversity statistics (15.7%), Shannon diversity index (16.3%) and AMOVA (14%) detected a moderate level of interpopulation diversity. Principal coordinate and Bayesian analyses clustered the populations in three major groups along a geographic gradient. The correlation between genetic and geographic distances was positive (Mantel test, r = 0.232). All together, these analyses revealed a weak but significant spatial genetic structure in P. apennina, with gene flow acting as a homogenizing force that prevents a stronger differentiation of populations. Conservation measures are suggested based on the observed pattern of genetic variability.