Barriers between islands often inhibit gene flow creating patterns of isolation by distance. In island species, the majority of genetic diversity should be distributed among isolated populations. However, a self-incompatible mating system leads to higher genetic variation within populations and very little between-population subdivision. We examine these two contrasting predictions in Erysimum teretifolium, a rare self-incompatible plant endemic to island-like sandhill habitats in Santa Cruz County, California. We used genome skimming and nuclear microsatellites to assess the distribution of genetic diversity within and among eight of the 13 remaining populations. Phylogenetic analyses of the chloroplast genomes revealed a deep separation of three of the eight populations. The nuclear ribosomal DNA cistron showed no genetic subdivision. Nuclear microsatellites suggest 83% of genetic variation resides within populations. Despite this, 18 of 28 between-population comparisons exhibited significant population structure (mean FST = 0.153). No isolation by distance existed among all populations, however when one outlier population was removed from the analysis due to uncertain provenance, significant isolation by distance emerged (r2 = 0.5611, p = 0.005). Population census size did not correlate with allelic richness as predicted on islands. Bayesian population assignment detected six genetic groupings with substantial admixture. Unique genetic clusters were concentrated at the periphery of the species’ range. Since the overall distribution of nuclear genetic diversity reflects E. tereifolium’s self-incompatible mating system, the vast majority of genetic variation could be sampled within any individual population. Yet, the chloroplast genome results suggest a deep split and some of the nuclear microsatellite analyses indicate some island-like patterns of genetic diversity. Restoration efforts intending to maximize genetic variation should include representatives from both lineages of the chloroplast genome and, for maximum nuclear genetic diversity, should include representatives of the smaller, peripheral populations.
del Valle JC, Herman JA, Whittall JB (2020) Genome skimming and microsatellite analysis reveal contrasting patterns of genetic diversity in a rare sandhill endemic (Erysimum teretifolium, Brassicaceae). PLoS ONE 15(5): e0227523. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0227523