RAPD and ITS-based variability revealed in Atriplex species introduced to semi-arid zones of Morocco.
Variability related to RAPD markers and sequences of nrDNA ITS region has been studied in seven species of the genus Atriplex (A. amnicola, A. canescens, A. halimus from Morocco (MAR) and from USA, A. lentiformis, A. nummularia, A. semibaccata and A. undulate). As a whole, the results show a high variability among the species. The biggest diversity was obtained by RAPD data, followed by ITSs. According to RAPD markers, two major groups can be distinguished, one formed by A. semibaccata and A. undulata, the least similar to the rest of species. A. lentiformis was closer to A. halimus. Phylogenetic analysis confirmed the divergence of A. semibaccata from all species and the closeness of A. lentiformis to A. halimus. The intraspecies variability was also high, as 39 individual RAPD haplotypes were obtained by analyzing 40 plants. Genetic diversity was bigger among species (60.23%) than among individuals (39.77%). The amplification of ITS region leads to three well-defined clades. The heterogeneous and larger clade includes all A. amnicola individuals and some individuals from A. nummularia, A. lentiformis, A. halimus USA, A. halilmus MAR and A. undulata. Both RAPDs and ITS analyses revealed with some exceptions, that all individuals from one species grouped together. RAPDS turn out to be more appropriate than ITS to differentiate Atriplex species. The two markers gave rise to the same species relationships, but to a different structure of the Atriplex genetic diversity. AMOVA analysis estimated interspecies differences for 11.20% of the total ITS variation. Both the great variability and the apparently restrictive gene flow among the species are discussed considering the life history and characteristics of the plants studied.