Our featured PLoS ONE image this week comes from an article published yesterday by Alicia Montesinos and colleagues from the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) in Spain. In the paper, entitled, Demographic and Genetic Patterns of Variation among Populations of Arabidopsis thaliana from Contrasting Native Environments, the authors describe a demographic study of native Arabidopsis thaliana populations in northeast Spain.
The researchers studied the demographic and genetic variation between A. thaliana populations growing in the Mediterranean environments on the coast and those in the mountainous Pyrenean environments. The demographic traits included the dynamics of the soil seed bank and the attributes of the plants over a complete season, while genome-wide SNP markers were used to describe the genetic diversity and structure.
“Montane populations, at higher altitude and farther from the sea, are exposed to colder winters and prolonged spring moisture compared to coastal populations,” the authors write in the paper. “Montane populations showed stronger secondary seed dormancy, higher seedling/juvenile mortality in winter, and initiated flowering later than coastal populations. Montane and coastal regions were genetically differentiated, montane populations bearing lower genetic diversity than coastal ones.”
According to the researchers, the study demonstrates how variation between populations of A. thaliana results from a complex interaction of environment, genetic and demographic factors.
The featured image forms Figure 2 of the published paper, which is freely available online, and shows, “the habitat type and the area where permanent plots were laid down. Left and right panels are montane and coastal populations, respectively. Populations are ranked according to their altitude within each region.”
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