Background and Aims
Wild soybean (Glycine soja), a native species of East Asia, is the closest wild relative of the cultivated soybean (G. max) and supplies valuable genetic resources for cultivar breeding. Analyses of the genetic variation and population structure of wild soybean are fundamental for effective conservation studies and utilization of this valuable genetic resource.
In this study, 40 wild soybean populations from China were genotyped with 20 microsatellites to investigate the natural population structure and genetic diversity. These results were integrated with previous microsatellite analyses for 231 representative individuals from East Asia to investigate the genetic relationships of wild soybeans from China.
Analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) revealed that 43·92 % of the molecular variance occurred within populations, although relatively low genetic diversity was detected for natural wild soybean populations. Most of the populations exhibited significant effects of a genetic bottleneck. Principal co-ordinate analysis, construction of a Neighbor–Joining tree and Bayesian clustering indicated two main genotypic clusters of wild soybean from China. The wild soybean populations, which are distributed in north-east and south China, separated by the Huang-Huai Valley, displayed similar genotypes, whereas those populations from the Huang-Huai Valley were different.
The previously unknown population structure of the natural populations of wild soybean distributed throughout China was determined. Two evolutionarily significant units were defined and further analysed by combining genetic diversity and structure analyses from Chinese populations with representative samples from Eastern Asia. The study suggests that during the glacial period there may have been an expansion route between south-east and north-east China, via the temperate forests in the East China Sea Land Bridge, which resulted in similar genotypes of wild soybean populations from these regions. Genetic diversity and bottleneck analysis supports that both extensive collection of germplasm resources and habitat management strategies should be undertaken for effective conservation studies of these important wild soybean resources.