Assessing genetic diversity for the USA endemic carnivorous plant Pinguicula ionantha R.K. Godfrey (Lentibulariaceae)

David N. Zaya, Brenda Molano-Flores, Mary Ann Feist, Jason A. Koontz, Janice Coons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding patterns of genetic diversity and population structure for rare, narrowly endemic plant species, such as Pinguicula ionantha (Godfrey’s butterwort; Lentibulariaceae), informs conservation goals and can directly affect management decisions. Pinguicula ionantha is a federally listed species endemic to the Florida Panhandle in the southeastern USA. The main goal of our study was to assess patterns of genetic diversity and structure in 17 P. ionantha populations, and to determine if diversity is associated with geographic location or population characteristics. We scored 240 individuals at a total of 899 AFLP markers (893 polymorphic markers). We found no relationship between the estimated population size with either of two measures of diversity (proportion of loci polymorphic, P = 0.37; Nei’s gene diversity, P = 0.50). We also found low levels of population genetic structure; there was no clear relationship of genetic isolation by distance (P = 0.23) and only a small (but significant) proportion of genetic variation was partitioned amongst regions (2.4 %, P = 0.02) or populations (20.8 %, P < 0.001). STRUCTURE analysis found that the model with two inferred clusters (K = 2) best described the AFLP data; the dominant cluster at each site corresponded to the results from PCoA and Nei’s genetic distance analyses. The observed patterns of genetic diversity suggest that although P. ionantha populations are isolated spatially by distance and both natural and anthropogenic barriers, some gene flow occurs among them or isolation has been too recent to leave a genetic signature. The relatively low level of genetic diversity associated with this species is a concern as it may impair fitness and evolutionary capability in a changing environment. The results of this study provide the foundation for the development of management practices that will assist in the protection of this rare carnivorous plant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-180
Number of pages10
JournalConservation Genetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • AFLP
  • Carnivorous plant
  • Conservation genetics
  • Endemic
  • Pinguicula ionantha
  • Rare species biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics


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