Veloso, M.M., Simões-Costa, M.C., Guimarães, J.B., Ribeiro, C.M., Evaristo, I., Espírito-Santo, D., Pinto-Ricardo, C., Paulo, O.S. & Duarte, M.C. (2021) Genetic diversity and population structure of wild beets (Beta spp.) from the Western Iberian Peninsula and the Azores and Madeira islands.Diversity, 13(11), 593. DOI:10.3390/d13110593 (IF2021 3,031; Q3 Ecology)
In this work, using simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers, we present new insights into the genetic diversity, differentiation, and structure of Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima of western Iberia and the Azores and Madeira islands and of B. macrocarpa from southern Portugal. B. macrocarpa occurs only in southern Portugal and frequently in sympatry with B. vulgaris subsp. maritima, showing genetic introgression. B. macrocarpa has a better-defined structure than B. vulgaris subsp. maritima, which has a high degree of admixture. A great differentiation (FST ranging from 0.277 to 0.184) was observed among the northern populations of B. vulgaris subsp. maritima. In contrast, only a small differentiation (FST ranging from 0.000 to 0.026) was detected among the southern B. vulgaris subsp. maritima populations. The inland B. vulgaris subsp. maritima populations (“RIO” and “VMT”) are distinct from each other, which also occurs with the two islands’ populations (“MAD” and “AZO”). The existence of two distinct Atlantic Sea currents can explain the fact that Madeira is related to the southern populations, while the Azores is related to the northern populations. We consider that understanding the relationships existing within Beta spp. is key to future genetic studies and for the establishment of conservation measures. Our results show that the southern coastal areas of Portugal should be considered as a potential site for in situ conservation of the beet wild relatives. Special attention is needed in what concerns B. macrocarpa because this is a rare species that also occurs in a sympatric relationship with B. vulgaris subsp. maritima.