We report results showing that the RAPD technique is a powerful method for detailed genetic analysis of a small natural population of the endangered plant species Anthericum liliago L. (Anthericaceae). This population grows on silicate grasslands in central Germany. We investigated all 127 ramets found in the population area. Within the population area, restricted to ca 45 m2, we visually identified three subpopulations. Analysis of 54 RAPD markers revealed a relatively low level of genetic polymorphism (34.6%) and a pronounced subpopulation structure within the studied population. Our results show a significant (p 0.001, r=0.423) correlation between genetic and spatial distances within this population which may be a result of restricted pollen and seed dispersal and of a high selfing rate. In the studied population the ant species Myrmica sabuleti (Meinhart) is probably the main pollinator for A. liliago. These ants have a relatively small radius of movement and therefore pollen transfer mediated by ants probably restricts gene flow in the A. liliago population. We suggest that the time of flowering and the distance between individual plants play an important role in successful pollination and seed production of the investigated A. liliago population.
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