Variation in Thamnocortus insignis - genetically and environmentally plastic?

Bachelor Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Environmental variation of Thamnocortus insignis Mast. (Restionaceae) is presented, by using average dry weight measurements of six populations of this species found along the coast of the Cape Province. The dry weight measurements were used to detect variation in the growth rates of the six populations, which in tum indicates the environmental variation among the populations. The results were showed no significant difference between all six populations and this was due to the relatively very small sizes of the seedlings when the measurements were taken. Genetic variation was investigated by using isozyme electrophoresis of the EST locus. One population (Puntjie) showed significant deviation from the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, whilst all the others agreed with the assumptions of the model except for the Superthatch-extra tall population, which was homologous. Estimation of allelic diversity among the populations produced a Fst of 0.098 that implies that there is a high level of gene flow among the six populations of the species. The allelic diversity estimate within populations was also very low (Fis = 0.079) implying that the genetic neighbourhoods are relatively large and there is a high incidence of gene flow within the populations. Both estimation results support the predicted results for dioecious wind-pollinated species such as T. insignis.