Population genetics of purple saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia L.) in the high Arctic archipelago of Svalbard

13005-TR1 blog postThe genetic characteristics of species impact their capacity to maintain populations and colonize new areas, and the presence of genetic diversity is especially important for plant populations in highly stochastic environments like the Arctic. Purple saxifrage, Saxifraga oppositifolia, is a circumpolar, ecologically and morphologically variable species with a wide range of habitats. Although not endangered at the moment, climate change, the potential warming or drying of northern areas, and increased UV radiation could become a threat in the future. In a recent study published in AoB PLANTS, Pietiläinen and Korpelainen used DNA markers and sequencing to investigate patterns of genetic variability in this species in the isolated Arctic Svalbard archipelago. They found that both genetic variation and differentiation levels are modest, outcrossing is the main mating system, and that dispersal and gene flow are important phenomena within Svalbard, probably attributable to strong winds and human and animal vectors.